Buying a Home, Selling a Home

Well, well, well – All About Domestic Well Water

As the Portland Metro area grows and it’s population spreads further out the more buyers (and sellers) need to have guidance from their realtor on items like wells and septic systems. If you are considering a move to or selling real property where there is a private well you should understand your rights and responsibilities so you are protecting yourself and your family.

Here are some things to keep in mind when purchasing a home that has a private well:

  • Before the transfer of the property is complete, Oregon law requires sellers to test the well water (typically for arsenic, nitrates, and total coliform bacteria) and report findings to Oregon Health Division and buyers within 90 days of receiving the results.
  • It’s a good idea for buyers to verify that the seller used proper procedures when having the well tested and/or to consider obtaining their own test prior to the transfer.
  • Buyer should pay close attention to disclosures or representation by the seller or the seller’s agent and review all available well records. Search well reports/logs here.
    • The standard Seller’s Disclosure Statement does not address whether the well provides adequate water for domestic use. Buyer should verify this!!
  • To make sure all necessary information is provided, the seller should complete a Domestic Well Testing For Real Estate Transaction form (check with your real estate broker for this).

In Oregon, it is actually suggested that well water is tested every year for bacteria and nitrates. If you are routinely testing your well water for domestic use, there is no requirement to report the results.

The good news is that testing for the most common risks isn’t too expensive and could be worth the peace of mind. Homeowners can usually have all three tests (nitrates, bacteria, and arsenic analysis) done for anywhere between $65-$150. Of course, if the test results come back high or contaminants are suspected, you will likely need to have more extensive testing. Always use an accredited laboratory.

For information on the state well registration program go to:

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