Okay, so you are now contemplating selling your home and are figuring out the plan of action.
What do we keep and take with us and what do we sell, in a tag sale and the rest we throw away?
Who do we hire for a move? Is our real estate attorney still practicing?
Do we try to sell on our own or hire an agent, who is our friend (who may or may not be the best choice, but then again it is our friend!) or do we interview a professional real estate broker, who will be knowledgeable, trustworthy and credible to find us the most qualified purchaser and have them pay us the most money in the shortest amount of time?
Many important and crucial questions will begin to surface and may keep you up at nights pondering during the day, with all the decisions that one must make to have as smooth a transition as possible to begin one’s new lifestyle. However, I have experienced one important item, that more than most forget to consider in the home that they are going to put out on the market.
Are all your improvements legal, with permits filed and Certificate of Occupancy accounted for, based on ones local zoning rules and regulations?
Is that bathroom, enclosed porch or deck, fence or even expanded extension you added 10, 20 or even 30-40 years ago have the necessary permits and C.O.’s, that the contractor (who no longer is in business or alive, LOL), was suppose to file and implement on your behalf.
Where are they?
Does the local village or town have a record of them (they should if it was done legally and properly!)
Yes, you have saved additional real estate taxes, have not been caught, etc.; but the potential of major headaches arises when those structures that were added are found out when a title search/survey are done and your deal falls apart of the buyer becomes apprehensive about purchasing and wants a reduction in the price and/or two-three or even five-10 times the value of the improvement is held in escrow, until the necessary C.O.’s are applied for.
What if your “cash” buyer looks the other way, but something goes wrong in the home, a fire, someone trips, a leak occurs, someone gets seriously hurt, all because of those improvements that somehow can be related to your negligence and poor workmanship, contributing to the deficiency in the improvements, leading to an accident.
What do you think will happen, A lawsuit (we are the most litigious society on earth!) will potentially or surely occur, even if several years later, depending on the statute of limitiations.
Even before the closing when a seller fills out or does not fill out a property disclosure form (which is part of the law) at the time of listing their home with a Broker, (they pay $500 at closing if they do not fill out the 48 question form), they are still potentially open to a lawsuit, regardless, years later, again dependant on the statute of limitations.
So, you think you saved a lot of money, only to have the improvements come back and bite you in your rear and pocketbook! The money you thought you were saving all those years is now going right back into your attorney’s, expediter or architects pocket, for a making those improvements legal, creating and filing all the required paperwork and lastly, a possible new survey for the purchasers bank!
The question is, will you get them, are the improvements done correctly and by the local and town code, based on today’s environment and not based on what they were when you had the improvement completed five-40 years ago?
I have seen these situations occur time in and time out; the bank and the buyer’s attorney, does not want to be responsible nor provide a mortgage to the prospective purchaser, for anything that does not have a necessary permit and a C.O. attached to it.
It is called penny wise, pound foolish! It is the old, “Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later syndrome.
Do it right in the beginning, so in the end you have a saleable home without the stress and headaches of all those improvements that you thought you might get done.
Saving those dreadful real estate taxes, without the necessary paperwork, but only to realize in the end that you paid, sometimes more than the taxes you thought you would save to someone else to legalize everything.
More important, you might just lose that excellent qualified purchaser, who either insists on a reduction or just plane walks away from the sale!
Now, you or your broker have to start all over again looking for that capable and qualified buyer and sometimes have to explain, why you lost your initial deal in the first place; that could have an impact on your price, depending on the market conditions and location of your home.
Unfortunately, we all have to pay real estate taxes, some much more and some less; but to avoid the legalities of permits and Co’s will most likely cost you more in the long run than if you just “Do The Right Thing” in the first go around.
My 6 P’s, Proper, Pre-Planning, Prevents Piss, Poor Performance!