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How Much Is My Home Heating Oil Worth?

Question: We are selling our home and have about 125 gallons of heating oil in the tank. Our realtor said we can’t get reimbursed for that but at almost $4 a gallon I think we should get something. Which of us is correct?

Answer: The oil company won’t buy it back from you, if that’s what you’re thinking, but that doesn’t mean you’re totally out of luck. Depending on the market, you may be able to sell it right along with your house. In the Northeast, where home heating oil is most common, real estate agents typically note in the listing that the home uses oil and buyers are expected to purchase what’s left in the tank, says Lisa Johnson Sevajin, vice president for Coldwell Banker in Andover, Mass. Ask your oil company to provide a detailed receipt of the value of the tank contents’ prior to closing — most will visit for free to make a good impression on the new owners, she says. Then submit the bill for the tank contents at the closing.

However: The buyer must agree both to the value of the oil in the tank, and his responsibility to purchase it, says Stephanie Singer, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Realtors. Some won’t, at which point you don’t have much leverage – draining the tank and taking the oil with you may be tempting, but impractical. If you’re early in the home-selling process, consider offering the oil for free as an incentive, especially if cheaper gas heating is more prevalent in your area, or if the home has been in the market for a while, Sevajin says.


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