Provider Advisory

NC License 1069

Polybutylene Pipe

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Polybutylene Pipe, a Realtor's Curse?

Should you be concerned about Polybutylene pipe in the home you are listing or selling?

Is the presence of Polybutylene pipe in a property a material fact which must be disclosed?

The NC Real Estate Commission continues to say NO! But you need to be very careful interpreting the "NO," because with the "NO" is an "UNLESS" which sounds more like a YES. I am very afraid Realtors are hearing the "NO" and missing or ignoring the "UNLESS."

Here is the official position:

"unless there is some indication that the particular pipes involved have failed or are likely to fail in the future."

The article goes on to make the following recommendation:

"What should you as a real estate licensee do when confronted with a property served by PB pipes? The Real Estate Commission recommends that you inquire as to any past leaks or other problems with the pipes in the property (and in neighboring properties if in a condominium, townhouse or similar project). If you find that the owner (or neighbor) has had a history of problems, or, if you find the owner has an ongoing problem, disclose these facts to the buyer and recommend an inspection. If no problem appears, disclosure is permitted but not required."

By Miriam J. Baer
Assistant Director of Legal Services
North Carolina Real Estate Commission Real Estate Bulletin Volume 30 Winter 1999 - 2000 Number 4

Is this a NO, or a YES?

This official recommendation puts some burden on you, which I am sure you are excited to bear. The key word is "INQUIRE" it not only recommends that you ask the seller, but appears to clearly imply that you ask the neighbors with like properties if they have had or are aware of any problems. It sounds like you are to walk up and down the street knocking on doors. What a great way to meet friends and influence people. "Hi, I'm your friendly neighborhood Realtor. Did you know your house has Polybutylene pipe?" If this is your game plan, you had better be prepared to be inundated with questions and have your facts straight. All of the listings in the neighborhood and their Realtors will be in love with you! There must be an attorney looking for work somewhere is this woodpile!

Wouldn't disclosure be much simpler and less litigious?

The strange thing to me is, if the Commission appears to be recommending that you walk up and down the street knocking on doors to "inquire" if the neighbors have had problems, why do Realtors become upset when my report advises our clients:

"Polybutylene supply piping has a history of failure at connection points. In particular, plastic connector fittings are prone to leakage. It may be wise to consult the seller regarding any problems that have been experienced to date. This type of piping is prone to leakage. Repairs will depend on the extent of problems experienced."

If you walk up and down the street and meet all of the neighbors and determine that there has been no problem with PB pipe in this community, then I whole-heartedly concur with the Commission. Don't be concerned about it. On the other hand, if you aren't planing on taking the Commissions advice, you better have another game plan in mind.

Here is why:

Deal murdered in Western Forsyth County

Late last month it is rumored that a deal was murdered in Western Forsyth County. The suspected culprit's name was Polly. Polly may have had two accomplices, Web and Telly. It seems that upon discovery of Polly in the home, Web and Telly provided instant information for the Buyers leading to the alleged homicide.

After conferring with Web and hearing from Telly, the buyers commented: "We are not willing to assume the potential risk of dealing with this issue. We will look for another house." Deal Dead!

Have you seen the TV add: "Does your home have Polybutylene piping?"

Want to see what the buyer saw? Go to "" and check it out. If that's not enough, go to any search engine and put in "Polybutylene" or "Polybutylene pipe" and see what you find.

You are a sales person. Which has more impact? Perception or facts.

Now is the time to become informed and be prepared. Don't delay until your deal is dead!

Be an informed agent!

Be prepared to educate your clients.

The quickest place is to look for PB is at the water heater. Just above the water heater should be copper pipe. If this pipe is short and changes to a gray plastic pipe, most likely it is Polybutylene. If you see gray plastic pipe below the sinks, in the crawl space or basement it's most likely Polybutylene.

Be aware that some contractors used copper in all exposed areas for some reason. Could it have been to mislead the buyers?

Don't leave your client in the dark!

Many sellers aren't even aware they have PB pipe.

Most buyers know absolutely nothing about PB pipe.

Don't let them find out from me and visit the World Wide Web.

Prepare them before I arrive.

You and your clients will be the winners in the long run.

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This page last modified: 
Sunday, February 16, 2003

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