Shawn Sullivan, Broker Associate, CRS's Blog
House owners frequently remodel, upgrade, or otherwise make changes in their homes for which they do not secure a permit. While some changes do not require permitting, others do. The challenge comes when you attempt to sell the home. You may run into a problem when a buyer makes an offer on such a property, and their inspector discovers unpermitted changes. Their mortgage lender may be unwilling to give them a loan until you remedy the permit issue.
Additionally, since building codes often change from year to year and certainly from decade to decade, and the property may have changed hands more than once before it came to you. Even if the upgrade occurred before you purchased it, you might be the one responsible for fixing it with your municipality.
What can you do? When you believe your home has unpermitted construction, learn as much as you can about it:
When did installation take place? Before you took ownership of the house? After?
What is the construction? A pergola? A sunroom? That necessary second bathroom?
In the year or era of construction, was a permit required? Is there a permit in place of which you're not aware?
Can it be grandfathered?
What is “Grandfathering”?
The term “grandfather clause” refers to an exception to a code, restriction, or legal requirement. It allows anything already done legally “at the time” to continue even if a new limitation would not allow it. Regarding unpermitted home upgrades, if the construction was before the change in the code, check to see if the code requires retroactive compliance. In that case, exceptions typically pose a danger to anyone living in the home or on the property and need remediation. When code changes do not require retroactive compliance, knowing the date of the construction puts you in the clear.
When you discover retrofits, additions, upgrades, or renovations in your home, search city or county records for a permit. Ask for help to see if that type of work in the year(s) of its completion required one. If it needed a permit, and you do not find one in place, either request a retroactive authorization or plan to sell your home "as is" to a willing buyer. Municipalities often have methods in place to offer retroactive permits. Check to determine the total cost of the permitting process. In addition to the permit fee, you may have to pay fines, inspections, and other fees. Any modifications required because of the permitting process become your responsibility. When the total cost of obtaining retroactive permits and related fees and construction costs is higher than the return on your investment, consider the “as is” process.
Selling Your Home "As Is"
When you choose to sell your property "as is," you no longer need to disclose to the municipal building department that you may have unpermitted construction. Until you are sure you want to request a retroactive permit, do not disclose information when you communicate with building code offices that might trigger an inspection.
In the selling process, however, fully disclose to your real estate agent all items you know about for certain. That is, tell them about additions or upgrades you installed while in ownership. Make sure a sale is not delayed or falls through because a lender requires a permit. Have an appropriate "as is" clause written into the sales contract.
Confer with your real estate agent to determine if seeking a permit is in your best interested when selling with unpermitted additions.
Believe it or not, selling a home may prove to be a good idea. In fact, there are many reasons why selling a residence could be beneficial, and these include:
1. You can earn a profit from your home sale.
If you have allocated significant time and resources to maintain your residence, you may find there will be lots of interest in your house if you add it to the real estate market. As such, you could earn a profit from the sale of your home.
Of course, it often helps to craft a home selling strategy before you list your house. This strategy will enable you to determine the steps you'll need to take to optimize your home sale earnings.
2. You can downsize or upgrade.
In some instances, a homeowner may find his or her current residence is now too big or too small. If you encounter this situation, there is no need to worry, as you can always list your residence and downsize or upgrade as needed.
Selling a home allows you to reconsider your living situation. Thus, if your current house is too big, you can sell your home and move into a smaller residence. On the other hand, if you need more space than your current home offers, you can list your residence and pursue a bigger home in the city or town of your choice.
3. You can find a new home close to family members and friends.
If you have to travel great distances to visit family members and friends, you may want to consider moving closer to these loved ones. Thankfully, you can sell your residence and relocate to a new home near family members and friends.
Clearly, there are many reasons why selling a home may be a good idea. If you hire a real estate agent, you can receive comprehensive assistance throughout the property selling journey.
A real estate agent will do whatever it takes to help you achieve the optimal home selling results. First, he or she will meet with you and find out why you are selling your house. A real estate agent next will offer tips to help you prepare your residence for the housing market. Then, when you're ready to sell your home, a real estate agent will promote your residence to prospective buyers. And if you receive an offer to purchase your house, a real estate agent will help you analyze this homebuying proposal and make an informed decision.
In addition, a real estate agent is a home selling expert. He or she will respond to any of your home selling concerns and questions, and by doing so, ensure you can achieve your desired results.
If you decide to sell your residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent. Because if you have a real estate agent at your disposal, you can get the help you need to simplify the property selling journey.
All home sellers understand that there are some costs to selling a home, but not everyone realizes what they're expected to pay for (and how much the total will be). We'll look at the most common expenses and how they might affect your budget.
Real Estate Agent Fees
This is probably the first thing that comes to mind if you're selling a home. The standard rule is anywhere between 5 to 6% of the final sale price. Not all sellers will shoulder this cost, but the majority will. So if your home sells for $300,000, you should expect to hand over at least $15,000 to be split between the buyer and seller real estate agents. Please note that commissions can be negotiable, especially if you're selling in a popular neighborhood.
While none of these costs are strictly necessary, they can help you get your home ready:
- Repairs: If you're not planning to sell the house as-is, it's a good idea to spruce up the interior and exterior of the property. Even if you're only buying a few cans of paint and a roller, the costs can add up quickly.
- Home inspection: Buyers will typically do their own home inspection, but sellers who go above and beyond can give themselves an edge in a competitive market. If you're going out of your way to buy a home inspection, it can show you have nothing to hide. These inspections cost a few hundred dollars and may reveal structural problems that you were unaware of.
- Staging: Arranging your furniture to show off the best of the home can really inspire buyers to view its potential. Whether you dress up your home with cozy touches (e.g., cashmere throws, small bouquets, etc.) or more modern decorations, it can help attract the perfect buyer.
If you're moving out before you sell the house, you'll need to continue paying the utilities. You'll also need to check with your lender as to exactly how much you owe when you pay off the loan. Some lenders will charge prepayment fees upon early termination. You may also be asked to either pay or split the closing costs, especially if you're selling in a buyer's market. This can include anything from the title inspector fees to transfer costs. Finally, you may need to pay capital gains tax if your home skyrocketed in value or any lingering property taxes.
Some sellers end up paying closer to 10% of the total sale price of their home, a figure that can be difficult to swallow for many sellers. It's worth clarifying each cost so you always know what you're paying for.
If you intend to sell your house, it pays to get expert support throughout the home selling journey. In fact, if you hire a real estate agent, you can put various home selling myths to rest.
Ultimately, there are many home selling myths that you may hear before you list your house. If you take these myths to heart, you may struggle to prepare for the home selling process.
Let's take a look at three common home selling myths, and the problems associated with these myths.
1. Selling a house is a quick, seamless process.
The process of selling a house often can be long and complicated, particularly for a first-time home seller. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can reduce the risk of encountering home selling hurdles.
A real estate agent will learn about you and your home selling goals. Then, this housing market professional will offer recommendations about how to promote your residence to the right groups of buyers and maximize your house's value.
Furthermore, a real estate agent is available to respond to questions at each stage of the home selling journey. He or she will guide you along each stage of this journey, and as such, help you identify and resolve problems before they escalate.
2. What you originally paid for your house matches what it is worth today.
The real estate market fluctuates constantly. Thus, what you initially paid for your house is unlikely to match what your residence is worth today.
A real estate agent can help you evaluate housing market data to better understand how your residence stacks up against the competition. That way, you'll be better equipped than ever before to establish a competitive price for your residence.
Also, a real estate agent may recommend that you complete a home appraisal. This appraisal will enable you to receive a property valuation to help you determine the optimal initial asking price for your home.
3. There is no need to make home improvements, because a buyer will make home upgrades after finalizing a purchase.
When it comes to selling a house, it pays to go above and beyond the call of duty. Therefore, if you complete myriad home improvements before listing your house, you can increase the likelihood that your home will stand out to potential buyers.
Take some time to examine your residence both inside and out. If you identify any major problems, you should fix these issues immediately. Because if you fail to do so, you may miss out on opportunities to stir up interest in your house.
A real estate agent generally can provide recommendations about home upgrades. This housing market professional may even be able to put you in touch with the best local contractors who can help you upgrade your residence in no time at all.
Don't fall victim to the aforementioned home selling myths. Instead, work with a real estate agent, and you can get the help you need to quickly and effortlessly navigate the home selling cycle.
If this is your first home sale, you might be wondering about what your requirements are in terms of home inspections. A vital step in the closing process, professional home inspections are typically included in real estate contracts as a contingency (the sale is dependent upon their completion).
But, are there any situations in which a seller would get a home inspection?
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about why sellers might want to get their home inspection and how it could be useful to the home sale process overall.
To diagnose problems with your home
When you’re deciding on the asking price of your home, you’ll want to take into account all of the things that could potentially drive that price down. Inspectors will look for a number of issues in your home, which can save you from any surprises when a potential buyer orders their inspection of your home.
The further along in the home sale process when you discover an expensive repair that needs to be made, the more complicated it makes your home sale.
So, if you’re in any doubt about whether your home will need repairs now or in the near future, ordering an inspection could be a safe option.
What do inspectors look for?
When inspecting your home, a licensed professional will look at several things:
Exterior components of your home, such as cracks or broken seals on exterior surfaces, garage door function and safety, and so on.
The structural integrity of your home; checking your foundation for dangerous cracks where moisture can enter and cause damage in the form of mold or breaks in the foundation.
The roof of your home will be checked for things like broken or loose shingles or nearby tree branches that could damage your home or nearby power lines in a storm.
The HVAC system will be tested to make sure it’s running properly and efficiently and also that vents are clean and clear of debris.
Interior components of your home will be checked for safety and damage from things like pests and water damage.
Will the seller still order an inspection if my home just had one?
An inspection contingency is built into almost all real estate contracts to protect the interests of the buyer and seller alike.
In most circumstances, a buyer will want to get their own inspection performed. After all, they don’t know who you went to for an inspection and whether they were licensed in your state.
The bottom line
Ultimately, if you’re planning on selling your home in the near future and aren’t sure if your home may have any underlying issues, it’s usually a good idea to get an inspection to make sure you can plan for any repairs or inform potential buyers of any issues with your home.