Not Necessarily “Open & Shut”

One of the issues that can come up during the Buyer’s inspection is a loose thread — or several — concerning previous work done on the home.

permitExhibit A:  an open permit pertaining to a past remodeling project or home addition.

For the Buyer, the approach is easy:  stipulate that the Owner close the permit before title is transferred at closing.

Indeed, some (all?) municipalities won’t allow title to transfer until/unless that happens.

Two Variables

For the Seller, though, closing an open permit can be a potential nightmare.

If the Seller is lucky, the work was done recently, and is plainly visible.

If they’re really lucky, the same city inspector is available to sign off on the now-completed project.

At the other extreme would be long-ago work that is now concealed behind finished walls or closed ceilings — for example, the wiring in a Family Room addition.

Worst case, the city requires that the homeowner open up said walls and ceilings, and — if the work is deficient — re-do it.


“Amateur Hour”

So, what’s worse than an open permit?

No permit (assuming one or more were required).

It’s sort of like the difference between biting into an apple with a worm, vs. biting into an apple with half a worm.

If the owner used a general contractor, their first call should be to them — assuming they’re still around.

However, the usual scenario is that the homeowner was an ambitious do-it-yourselfer.

I alway scrutinize the country property tax records for yellow flags revealing such “amateur additions.”

One giveaway:  the county’s number for finished square feet is puzzlingly low.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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