Can You Sell a House with Polybutylene Pipes?

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Even though the information on this web page is provided by a qualified industry expert, it should not be considered as legal, tax, financial or investment advice. Since every individual’s situation is unique, a qualified professional should be consulted before making financial decisions.

First of all, yes, you can sell your home with polybutylene water pipes. During my over 20-year real estate investing career, I’ve dealt many times with properties having this problem. In this article, I will tell you what must be done to sell yours.

Let’s start by looking at 2 available choices for preparing, marketing, and selling a home with polybutylene pipes.


Selling a House with Polybutylene Pipes

2 Choices You Have when Selling a Home with Polybutylene Plumbing

There are two ways in which you can sell a home with polybutylene plumbing;

  1. Find someone who will buy your home as-is
  2. Fix the problem yourself and then market your home to the general public

The first option is the easiest way to sell your home. This enables you to turn the entire issue over to a buyer and walk away.

The second option will take more time and money but it may result in a higher price for your home.

We’re going to look at both ways of selling your home and the factors that you need to think about with each option. This way you can decide which method is right for you.


Why It’s Not Easy to Sell a House with Polybutylene Piping

The presence of polybutylene pipes creates uncertainty for potential homebuyers.

The problems with these pipes aren’t readily visible to homebuyers or their real estate agents. The damage starts on the inside of the pipes. Even home inspectors can’t tell you how far along the damage has progressed.

The pipes would have to be removed and examined. Home inspectors won’t do that. History tells us that problems will occur, you just don’t know when.

Members of the general public who are working with a broker will be looking at multiple properties. The uncertainty surrounding your home’s plumbing will easily push it off of their list.

An inspection report, and possibly the appraiser’s comments, will note the historical problems with polybutylene pipes. A buyer’s mortgage lender will possibly require more extensive inspections that hold up your closing. They may pass on making the loan altogether.


Why Is Polybutylene Bad?

Polybutylene pipes were first produced in the mid-1970s. They seemed to be a perfect material for plumbing pipes because they were inexpensive and held up well under high water pressures.

By the 1990s, however, problems had begun to surface. Minerals in the water, particularly chlorine that was used for purification reacted poorly with the pipes. This caused the pipes to deteriorate and become brittle on the inside.

When temperatures rise and fall, poly pipes will expand and contract. When this happens, weakened pipes will rupture.

Polybutylene water supply pipes broke in the ground outside homes causing soil erosion and foundation damage (if this has already happened to your property, here is an article about selling a house with foundation problems). Interior pipes ruptured inside the walls. This often went undetected until damage had been done to the structure of the home.

A frequent by-product of the water damage was mold. Mold can cause respiratory problems in adults and the development of asthma in children.

Polybutylene pipe health risks and product failures led to a successful class-action lawsuit in 1995. After that, building codes around the country no longer allowed the use of polybutylene pipes in new construction.

By that time millions of homes had already been built using these pipes. It is estimated that a lot of homes built during that time still have the original plumbing in place.

Owners of these homes are playing musical chairs, waiting for their turn to have to deal with problems caused by polybutylene plumbing.


Does a Seller Have to Disclose the Presence of Polybutylene Pipes in the Home?

Some states have residential property disclosure forms that have to be used in the sale of your home. Many of them specifically require you to disclose whether or not you are aware of polybutylene piping on your property.

Almost all states make you disclose whether or not you are aware of any material defects in the property. Polybutylene pipes would qualify as a material defect.

Consumer protection laws are getting stricter across the US. You could easily run afoul of these laws if you aren’t forthcoming about polybutylene pipes in your home. This could potentially make you liable for lawsuits from your buyer.

Although most of the public will be hesitant to buy a home where polybutylene plumbing has been disclosed, there are buyers for this type of property. Learn about them in the next section of this article.


Choice #1: Just Sell Your House As Is

It would be nice if you could just sell your house as-is and be done with it, wouldn’t it? Well, you can. You just have to know who your prospective buyers are, where to find them, and what other factors of such a deal you should consider.


Who Would Be Interested to Purchase a House with Polybutylene Pipes?

As we’ve mentioned, the uncertainty of buying a home that has polybutylene pipes creates a scary situation for most homebuyers.

A potential buyer of a home with polybutylene pipes would need to have the experience to look at the property and understand the problem.

They would need to be comfortable with buying a property that may need extensive work to replace the pipes and repair any damage.

Mortgage lenders will not lend money on a property based on its estimated value that the house will have after repairs are made by the new owner. The property will have to be fixed before closing if a mortgage is involved.

This means that a buyer would need to have the financial ability to buy the home and then make repairs.

Real estate investors are exactly this type of buyer. They are regularly looking for homeowners selling a house in poor condition as is. They buy houses for cash so that they don’t depend on a lender’s approval of their loan, unlike most buyers.

Their business model is to purchase properties that they can repair or upgrade. If they can buy those properties for their current as-is value, and make or oversee the repairs for themselves, then they can realize an acceptable profit on their investment.

Some investors are called “house flippers”. They intend to sell the house right away after repairs are made. You may have seen examples of this on television.

Others follow long term investing strategies. They will keep the property and rent it to tenants. They collect rental income over time and can sell the property later.

You can sell your house fast and for cash to an investor. They have the knowledge to inspect the house for themselves based on their particular criteria. They work with property values in your area every day. They don’t have to rely on lenders, appraisers, or third-party inspectors.


What Are the Pros and Cons of Selling a House As Is to an Investor?

There are significant differences between selling property to professional real estate investors versus selling it to traditional buyers:

  • Investors buy homes with cash. This means that you don’t have to wait to find out if your buyer can get their final loan approval. You don’t have to wait to find out if your home appraised successfully or if the lender will even accept your property.
  • An investor can close more quickly. They can handle most of the diligence themselves and are the only decision-maker involved on their side of the deal. They can also be flexible in setting a closing date that fits your needs.
  • You sell your home without having to spend the time and money needed to fix it. The buyer takes care of everything.
  • When you sell directly to an investor, you don’t have the closing costs home sellers normally pay. Agent commission (the main item on the list of closing fees making the cost of selling a home with a realtor expensive) is eliminated — normally, professional investors don’t use realtors. Other costs can be worked into the offer and paid out of your proceeds so that you don’t have to come to the closing with any funds.
  • The entire process is simplified for you. There are no showings or open houses. You and your family don’t have to leave home and cool your heels somewhere while people are walking through your home. There is no marketing time at all. You only deal with the buyer.

When calculating their offer, an investor will look at the costs of repairs and upgrades, the time it will take to put your house right, and their desired profit margin.

Depending on your market and the condition of your property, they may not offer you full market value for your home.

You should compare their offer to your property’s full market value minus your repair costs and closing costs.

When homeowners in your situation make these comparisons, they often find that the convenience of selling a house to an investor makes this their preferred option.

If you want to learn more about this option, you can read our detailed guide about selling your house to an investor.


How to Get More Bang for Your Buck when Selling Your Home for Cash As Is

Now that you know who your as-is buyers are, where do you find them? And how do you make sure that you’re dealing with the right investor and the best offer?

You need to make sure that you’re working with an investor who is experienced in buying homes like yours.

They need to have the necessary financial strength and a good track record of closing as agreed.

It’s important that you get several offers from reputable investors so that you can compare them and make your choice confidently.

Since this is probably unfamiliar territory for you, you will need to be prepared to spend a lot of time searching on the Internet. Make sure that any reviews that you rely on are authentic.

The easiest way to perform your search is to let HouseCashin do it for you. We have already researched and vetted the top real estate investors from across the industry. Our unique online platform was created to put them together with property sellers just like you.

Simply use the form on HouseCashin.com to request a no-obligation cash offer on your property. Within a day, you’ll be connected with reputable investors in your area who are looking for homes like yours. Then you will just need to choose the best one.


Choice #2: Repipe Your Home and then Sell It

Your second choice would be to replace any polybutylene pipes in your property and sell it the traditional way.

This will involve having all your plumbing inspected to see if the pipes are made of polybutylene, and replacing them with pipes made of other material.

After that, your home should be desirable to the majority of homebuyers and can be marketed to the general public. This would either be done by a broker working for you, or by yourself as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO).


Have Your Pipes Inspected

In order to know for certain if you have polybutylene pipes in your home, and their condition, you will need to hire a professional plumber.

Polybutylene pipes are difficult to identify. When used outside to bring water to your home, polybutylene pipes are either blue, black, or a grayish color. You will need to excavate them for examination.

Interior pipes are white and can be confused for other types of piping. Polybutylene pipes are often used with copper fittings which can also confuse a homebuyer.

Even if there is no doubt about what type of pipes you have, the condition cannot be determined by looking at the outside of the pipe.

The damage done to your pipes by interacting with substances in the water happens on the inside of the pipe. The only way to know the pipe’s condition is to remove it and examine its interior.


Do the Repiping

Once you’ve confirmed that you have polybutylene pipes that need replacing, you need to select the right contractor for the job.

Interview several and check their references. Look for online reviews and go to BBB.com to see if there are unresolved complaints lodged against them with the Better Business Bureau.

Get quotes and review them for completeness. They should specify what materials will be used, hourly rates, and estimated time to do the work. You should discuss with them the different kinds of pipes available and the cost of each.

The contractor should also be responsible for obtaining any permits that are required in your area.

Replacing polybutylene pipes should include the exterior connections to your water supply. This is true for a private source like a well, or a municipal water line.

Inside, your contractor will locate the pipes in your home. Locating and working on existing pipes requires cutting holes in your walls. The contractor will repair and repaint those sections before finishing the job.

Your contractor should talk to you about whether it’s possible to leave the existing pipes in place and re-route the water through the new pipes. Many homeowners prefer this method because it can save them money.

Interior repiping can take from 1 to 5 days. Exterior repiping will add to that estimate.


How Much Does It Cost to Replace Polybutylene Pipes?

The major factors in the cost of replacing polybutylene pipes are:

  • The kind of pipes you use to replace them
  • The size of your home and how many stories it has
  • The number of plumbing fixtures involved
  • Whether or not the work includes exterior water supply connections

Starting with the inspection, depending on its scope (interior only, exterior included, etc.) a professional plumber will charge between $150 and $500.

Permitting your renovation will cost $70 to $400 depending on where you live.

Repiping the interior of your home will cost between $1,500 to $8,000 for Pex or CPVC pipes, and from $2,500 to $15,000 for copper.

Replacing your exterior water supply connections can cost from $600 to $2,400.

This does not include any repairs for water damage or mold. National costs for these repairs are from $1,000 to $4,000 for water damage, and from $500 to $3,500 for mold removal or remediation. To learn more about dealing with mold or water damage, you can read our other articles Selling a House with Mold Problems and Selling a Flooded or Water Damaged House.

The time that this will take from the initial inspection to the close of the sale of your home will probably range from 3 to 4 months.

All this will depend on:

  • the availability of the inspecting plumber and the contractor
  • the permitting time in your area
  • if you have good weather for any exterior work
  • the average Days On Market (DOM) for resale homes in your area
  • when your buyer can close.

Which Way to Go when Selling a Home with Polybutylene Pipes?

Now that we’ve looked at the options for selling your house with polybutylene pipes, you can apply them to your circumstances.

In most cases, it boils down to time and money.

  • If you have time to sell but you don’t have the funds to make the needed repairs, you will probably want to consider selling to an investor.
  • If you have the funds to make repairs but need to sell quickly, you will also want to look at an investor sale.
  • If you have both the money and the time to make repairs and market your home to the general public, that could be your best choice.

To maximize the value you get from the sale of your property to an investor, consider requesting a cash offer from HouseCashin. We are a national platform connecting homeowners looking to sell their house fast and for cash with real estate investors willing to help them.

Fill out our “Request a Cash Offer” form to get a few offers from competing real estate investors working in your area and vetted by our reputation standards. Then choose the best offer and quickly close on your home within a couple of weeks, skipping the inconveniences and upfront expenses of a traditional real estate sale.

About the Author
Brian Robbins | Real Estate Investor

With over 20+ years of experience in real estate investment and renovation, Brian Robbins brings extensive knowledge and innovative solutions to the HouseCashin team. Over the years Brian has been involved in over 300 transactions of income producing properties across the US. Along with his passion for real estate, Brian brings with him a deep understanding of real estate risks and financing.

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