Real Estate Watch: Missing a certificate of occupancy?

Real Estate Watch: Missing a certificate of occupancy?

Okay, you are ready to sell and you have totally forgotten about the bathroom in the basement that was there when you bought 20,30 or even 50 years ago.   

Many years ago your attorney and bank,  back then,  never worried or concerned themselves or made an issue over  the Certificate of Occupancy (C.O.) to legalize the additional bathroom, deck, portico or even the additional room that you added to your home.  

Today, most banks will flag whatever is not on the most current survey, even the six-foot fence (which probably should be four feet).  

Unless there is egress — a way to get out of your basement — which is the law today; either a pop out window, in your basement with a metal ladder leading up to the ground or an additional Bilco Door exit leading out of the basement, besides your normal staircase, will make your finished basement legal in the eyes of the building department.  

Also a basic bathroom will also be legal with a C.O. and you must have egress out of your basement as explained previously.  

Again, some banks will look the other way with open permits and no C.O.’s, but these are few and far between.  I would suggest that you legalize those items and seek the necessary C.O’s in advance of considering putting your home on the market.  

This can also be accomplished, as noted in previous articles, by paying for a pre-inspection, especially if you have been in your home for many years and to find out all the negatives as well as those things that might not have C.O.’s and you may not be aware of any new rules and regulations.  

You can pretty much eliminate the headaches and stress of those surprises that might totally create issues when you have finally found the credible buyer and now, after their inspection, the problems all pop up.  

Don’t be a Monday morning quarterback, by procrastinating and waiting until the last minute.  

So it will cost you $350-$550 for the pre-home inspection, especially if you have a older home, but it will be money well worth spent, so you will know the issues and be able to fix them in advance and also know the general condition of the major items in your home such as the roof, plumbing, electrical, heating an air conditioning, foundation etc.

The buyer will surely either reduce their offer if any major issues were to pop up or possibly walk away altogether.  

Why lose the first qualified buyer, when you can be proactive in making sure things are taken care of as needed before road blocks mess up your potential sale.  

Prepare your home as the buyers will be looking for anything that could potentially lower your price or push purchasers away from even considering buying your home.  

Lastly, sometimes, I have experienced home inspectors that the buyer hires, who will not always give your home stellar ratings, just to collect their fee and then the buyer thinks that they have done a great job, saving them from purchasing a home, that “supposedly” doesn’t pass their inspection, when those items that were discovered are easily repaired or replaced.  

This scare tactic is not fair for the buyer or seller; but some unscrupulous inspectors will play that game even though they are licensed in New York State, may not always do the right thing.  

Fortunately, these inspectors,  are far and few between and most are very legitimate operators, who will do the right inspection and be honest and credible with their reports.  

If you hire an inspector for a pre-inspection, get testimonials from previous customer that they have serviced 1-5-10 years ago, just to see if they were satisfied and would rehire them if they were going to buy a home today.

When a buyer hires a home inspector, the same will hold true, get testimonials and also check out or google the inspectors name and/or company for good and bad reviews.  

Today, you really cannot hide the bad stuff, because everything is out there for all to see, if you search for it.  

P.S.  Have you checked your filter in your hot air heating system, as mentioned a few weeks ago?  

If it is a paper filter replace it with a more permanent filter.  Even though you will have to wash it twice a year, it will last and is more efficient and better than the paper filter.

P.P.S.  Lastly,  if you are going to use your fireplace this winter, when is the last time you hired a chimney sweep company to thoroughly clean out your chimney?  

Creosote does build up over the years and even squirrels and birds might live and build nests there.  Be safe and call a chimney sweep today before lighting up your fireplace.


Philip A. Raices, Pres, G.R.I. (Graduate Realtor Institute) 

Licensed Real Estate Broker Consultant 

Professional Building Management Services

Expert Reo’s, Foreclosures & Short Sales

Past President of the Rotary Club Of Great Neck 2011-2012 

Turn Key Real Estate

7 Bond Street

Great Neck, N. Y. 


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