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Buyer Beware: Single mom buys home only to discover costly sewage problem

Local mom says seller never disclosed sewage problem
Posted: 6:30 AM, May 03, 2022
Updated: 2022-05-03 09:30:27-04
Home purchased by Graciela Martinez

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The dream of becoming a homeowner for one Tucson mom is now becoming a nightmare. After moving into her home with her two kids, she soon discovered a bad sewage problem.

"This is a secret that is buried literally and figuratively," Graciela Martinez said. "And it needs to come up. Someone needs to answer for this."

Graciela Martinez bought her Tucson home for $158,000. After living there with her girls for a few days, she discovered, her dream home, had a big problem.

"If you take a shower, sewage will come out from the drain on your toes," Graciela said.

Martinez called a plumber to her home after her toilet became clogged, only to un-cover a big sewage problem underneath her house. She says experts estimated the cost to repair her sewage line would be over $14,000.

Her realtor Anthony Sotelo says the property was an investment property and had no disclosure of any sewage problems. When they ordered an inspection, he says the problem wasn't caught.

"After the home inspection was done, there was nothing in the home inspection report to validate a video scope or any other type of inspection," Sotelo said. "So we moved forward."

So what did the seller know about the sewage? A document verified by KGUN 9 shows the seller's name with an estimate from Cummings Plumbing for $14,500 in fixes for the sewage lines back in 2020.

KGUN 9 sat down with real estate attorney Corey Larson, who is not affiliated with the seller or buyer in this story. We asked what the law is in Arizona when it comes to disclosing problems like this. Even with an investment property that had no seller property disclosure, otherwise known as SPDS.

"Even though there might be no SPDS given," Larson said. "No disclosure given, there is still an obligation at law for the seller to disclose known latent defects, known hidden defects.

"Last time I was taking a shower, I was like, why isn't it draining and sewage started to come up and you can see the toilet paper residue," Martinez said. "You can see feces, it's just a total and utter mess."

Sewage comes from shower drain to cover toes

A mess that she says even her neighbors knew about.

"The neighbors do not have the same issue but they told me that the prior owners did and there were plumbers out here all the time," Martinez said. "And it's been an ongoing issue for whoever lives here and she told me sell your house immediately."

Martinez and her two girls are living temporarily in a rental home. Meanwhile she's left with a mortgage on a home she can't live in.

"I feel like I'm waking up to a nightmare every day. You know I'm supposed to be celebrating and not down in the dumps plunging the sewer, plunging the toilet," Martinez said. "I mean..I'm afraid because my children aren't stable. I mean, we can't live here, we're moving to this place to this place, staying overnight at a friend's ... and I've never lived like this before. You know, I'm scattered."

KGUN 9 reached out to the seller and their real estate agent and have not yet heard back for comment.

For those looking to buy a home, Tucson Association of Realtors President Elect Kim Clifton says make sure to get a licensed realtor.

"When you are getting a home inspection make sure you are using professionals," Clifton said. "It seems like a little investment on a huge property that you may be buying. The American dream is home ownership, so we want to make sure you're doing your due diligence and your homework because a realtor may not necessarily know what may or may not be important to you."

Clifton says buyers should also get a sewer scope inspection.

Sewer Scope Inspection

For more home buyer tips, visit azre.gov/consumers/.

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Denelle Confair is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Denelle is proud to call Southern Arizona home. It's been her dream to tell your stories for the past decade. She is extremely curious and wants to continue to use her storytelling for the greater good.
Share your story ideas and important issues with Denelle by emailing denelle.confair@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, and Twitter.