When it comes to representing their interests and their property choices, your clients expect you to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. That can be daunting for even the best real estate agent. And even though we can’t fill in all the blanks for you, we can help you become an expert for your clients who are selling, or who are considering buying, a property with heating oil as the fuel source. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions real estate agents in Massachusetts have asked us.

Selling and Marketing Oil-Heated Homes

Q: What do I tell a client who has never lived in an oil-heated home before?
If your client is wary about a home that’s heated with oil, the best thing you can do is share the facts about oil heat with them. Let them know that despite what they may think, heating oil is clean and efficient, that storage tanks rarely cause problems for homeowners, and that heating oil companies are known for the high levels of service. If they are still unsure, you can feel free to contact us with specific details and we’ll be happy to talk with your clients on your behalf.

Q: How do I prepare a home to sell, when it has an underground tank?
The first thing to do is have a conversation with your client about the underground tank. Determine the age of the tank, determine the state of the tank and discuss with your seller the options that are available. A home without an underground tank is typically easier to sell than a home with one, and so your seller might be interested in removing the tank and replacing with a new aboveground tank.

Q: If my client has an old heating oil system and is getting ready to sell their home, should I recommend that they switch fuels or upgrade a new heating oil system?
The Consumer Energy Council of America says that converting doesn’t make economic sense because of the extra conversion costs compared to simply upgrading a new, high-efficiency system. So if your client really wants their home to be super-attractive to a prospective buyer, upgrading to a new, high-efficiency heating oil system is the best way to go.


Q: If a tank test is required, what are the best types of tests to be conducted?
There are two types of tests; a test on the tank itself, and a test of the soil around the tank. Many certified tank testing companies will offer both tests. To be doubly sure that there is no contamination of the soil, your client should consider having both tests conducted.

Q: Where can my clients go to secure tank insurance?
They should contact their local heating oil company first. Many companies offer tank protection to their customers. Some homeowner’s insurance companies also offer insurance coverage.

Q: How common are underground tank leaks?
Extremely rare. And what’s more, heating oil is nontoxic and biodegradable, so in the rare event of a leak, heating oil poses no serious threat.

Q: Are aboveground tanks a good solution?
Yes! Aboveground tanks are an excellent storage option. Many of today’s aboveground heating oil tanks are double-walled and are virtually leak-proof. Plus, they are smaller than underground tanks and are much more attractive than what you might be used to.

Q: What is decommissioning? Is that a good option?
Tank decommissioning is a good option if your client’s tank is in a hard-to-reach location on the property and can’t be completely removed. When a tank is decommissioned, any remaining oil is siphoned out of the tank and replaced with sand, expandable foam or some other inert substance. The tank is then capped and the fill pipe is removed. The homeowner receives a certificate confirming the work completed and the project is complete. There is no chance of a leak or any other issue if an underground tank has been properly decommissioned.

Q: If I am concerned that my client has an old tank on the property, or if I’m representing the buyer and think there might be a tank on the property, how can I tell for sure?
If the homeowner doesn’t have any paperwork to prove the existence of an underground tank or to prove that a tank has been removed, there are two options. The homeowner can contact their heating oil provider to check if there is any paperwork on records with them, or a tank sweep can be conducted. Tank sweeps are conducted by licensed contractors who essentially sweep the property with a large metal detector to check for the presence of a tank.

Oil Company Info

Q: Do heating oil companies offer different payment programs?
Yes they do. Many oil companies allow their customers to pay for their fuel in a variety of different ways. One example is a budget program, where customers pay the same amount for fuel each month regardless of how much fuel is delivered. Another example is called a fixed price program, where customers can lock in their price all year long. These are just two examples of the kinds of payment programs fuel companies offer.

General Info

Q: Isn’t oilheat dirty and inefficient?
Not at all! Today’s heating oil is cleaner than it’s ever been, and efficiency levels have never been higher. That’s why today’s oilheat systems can save homeowners as much as 40% on their energy bills when they upgrade to a new, high-efficiency system.

Q: My client thinks that heating oil comes from the Middle East. What’s the truth?
The truth is that more than 75% of the oil used in the United States comes from outside the Persian Gulf. And do you know which country we get the most of our oil from? It’s the United States!