Information for Buyers

Key Points

  • Cedar Rock asks the buyer to ensure that the seller of the property is aware of when Cedar Rock will be performing the site inspection.
  • For older homes, always assume the past use of heating oil.
  • Current owners are often unaware of existence of underground tanks.
  • Know that if you buy the property you will become responsible for any soil contamination on the property.
  • Above and under ground tanks both present potential liability.
  • Don't assume that undocumented or poorly documented tank closure/removal work adequately addresses UST/AST concerns.
  • Request a site inspection for USTs and possible soil contamination at least one month prior to closing.
  • Cedar Rock can normally do an inspection within 24 hours.
  • A property containing a leaking petroleum UST which results in soil contamination exceeding applicable standards will require a Notice of Residual Petroleum (Deed Recordation) to be filed with the host county Register of Deeds prior to the conveyance or transfer of the property. See NCGS 143B-279.11 (d)

Most houses built prior to the mid-1960s used a heating oil system involving an above ground (AST) or underground (UST) storage tank. For sale sign It is common for the current property owners to be unaware of the existence of an underground storage tanks as they may never have used the tank. Cedar Rock asks that the prospective buyer of a property inform the seller of when the property will be inspected for the possible presence of leakage from an oil tank. Over time, it is extremely common for oil to leak from these systems, impacting the underlying soil and the ground water. The presence of soil contamination is not always obvious and can go undetected for years. When leakage is discovered State law requires immediate action to assess and cleanup the impacted soils. All environmental work must be carried out by a NC licensed geologist or engineer.

If soil contamination is discovered, tank removal (where possible), excavation of contaminated soils and associated environmental assessment as specified by State regulations, are required to be performed. If it is not possible to completely remove contaminated soil exceeding applicable standards from beneath the UST, a Notice of Residual Petroleum may then be required to be filed with the host county Register of Deeds office before the property may be legally conveyed or transferred. This work typically requires at least one month to complete.

Cedar Rock highly recommends that you have the Seller of the property deal with any soil contamination prior to closing on the property.

If a tank has been previously removed from the property but no assessment of possible soil contamination has been performed then a liability for cleanup of soil contamination may exist on the property and you as the new owner may be wholly or partly responsible for its cleanup. Likewise, if a tank is said to have been abandoned by filling with sand, foam etc., and there is no little or no proper documentation of the work that was done then you should assume that a liability for contamination might still exist on the property.

Leakage from above ground storage tanks must also be dealt with by the property owner or responsible party, as defined under State Regulations. Leakage from an above ground tank may pose more serious difficulty in complying with State cleanup and assessment standards.

Your attention to the environmental issues relating to past heating oil use and its potential impacts to a property can save you from becoming liable for a mandatory and expensive cleanup. Cedar Rock can usually inspect a property within 24 hours of request. Although not necessary, Cedar Rock prefers to perform the inspection in the presence of a realtor, seller, and/or buyer. A typical inspection takes from about 30 minutes to an hour and costs as little as $200.00 depending on location. Contact Cedar Rock or have your agent arrange a site inspection to give you peace of mind about your prospective purchase.