Back in the 1800s, many homes had shared community wells for their water supply. Many residents of Kenya and third world countries still utilize this system. In 2017 America, you don’t come across community wells often…except if you live on acreage out in North Carolina, next to the Amish community like one of my good friends.
Recently, I received a call from one of my long term high school girlfriends and her husband, asking for some advice on selling their home in North Carolina, which also utilizes a community well for their water supply. Their water supply goes a little like this:
Public water and sewer are not available in their neighborhood, so the home shares a community well with 5 other residents.
My friend’s house does not have its own pump, private septic, or drain field.
The water bill comes from the power company, who has rights to the community well.
The community well sits on one man’s property, and he’s paid the bill for EVERYONE for the last 10 years ($50 per month), until my friend and her husband moved in.
When the man, whose property the well sits on, got tired of paying the water bill for all 5 residents and stopped, my friend and her husband were sort of forced to pick it up. Since then, they have been paying for water for EVERYONE. The water system is typically regulated by the state and has to meet all government guidelines, but I am not sure what ball got dropped over on this side of town, but this was/is not being regulated. Apparently, after further research, this small country community was supposed to have an “HOWA” or Home Owner Well Association. All home owners in this community were supposed to pay a monthly fee for water to the HOWA President, and an escrow was to be in place for well repairs. Obviously, this was/is not being done, and although my friends tried to head this HOWA group up, they weren’t able to get any participation from the community residents. In this case, the next step is to place a small lien against the homes of the residents who don’t pay their water portion, but that was more trouble than it was worth to them.
My friend proceeded to tell me, that of course, they had to disclose this water situation in their listing. The day she called me, they had received 3 offers in the same day.
Offer one wanted a pump installed. ($4k and up cost to seller)
Offer two wanted their own well installed. ($6k and up cost to seller)
Offer three offered $10k over list price and didn’t ask for anything concerning the well situation. SCORE!!! We have a winner. As you can see, this individual was financing their well concerns into the price, and I anticipate they will recoup this cost one day when they go to sell.
So, in conclusion. Selling or buying a home with a community well can be tricky. My advice would be to 1) Make sure BEFORE BUYING, that the state regulates your community well or shared water system, so you don’t end up in the situation above, where you are paying everybody’s water bill; 2) Don't pay everyone's water bill. :)