Before Listing Your Home, Read This!

By ETTWomen Member Carol Mazzola, Real Estate Consultant, Keller Williams Realty West Monmouth

If you are ready to put your home on the market, you might want to double check this list first!

When you’re ready to sell your home, it’s a good idea to create a check list that includes:  making sure the carpets are clean, the garden is well kept, and that your home is optimized to make the best possible impression on potential buyers. Most importantly, make time to take care of this crucial yet easily forgotten, task: contact your local government to ensure that it has the correct information about your property.

Whether your home is a six-bedroom mansion or a one-bedroom condominium, local government records will have additional details and documents on it. Problems with municipality records on your home can stall the progress of a sale going through, or even derail a deal completely. So make sure everything is accurate and up to date before you decide to list your home on the market.

The Building Department

Your local town or borough retains records on every building permit that has been issued as well as details of every building that has been constructed within its municipality. The Construction Official (lead building inspector) is tasked with ensuring that any modifications that are made to a property meet the current building codes and that any work undertaken is completed by licensed contractors.  If you have put in a pool, finished your basement or upgraded your kitchen or baths without obtaining the necessary permitsapply for the permits and inspections before you even consider putting your home on the market for sale.

The building department is primarily interested in ensuring your property meets health and safety regulations. Whenever somebody makes an application for a permit, the building department will send out an inspector to physically inspect the work that has been completed and signed it off.

How Does This Affect Home Sellers?

Once an offer has been made and a deal has been agreed upon by the buyer and seller, the buyer may choose to contact the building department to complete their due diligence. If they discover any issues, such as an open permit that was applied for by a contractor but was never inspected and officially signed off by an inspector, they could possibly abandon the proposed deal with the seller.  In fact, many New Jersey townships require a Continuing Certificate of Occupancy (CCO) and all require Fire/Smoke Certifications before a closing can be scheduled.  If open permits are found, or the township inspection discovers specific structural, plumbing or electrical work performed without permits, the CCO and other certifications may not be issued until all permits and inspections have been satisfied.

It is quite common for sellers to discover that at some point during their property’s lifetime a mistake has been made, permits can certainly fly under the radar with relative ease. The mistake could belong to the contractor that completed the work, the previous owner of the property, or even an administrative error made by the building department itself.

Issues like these can cause a big headache for owners wanting to sell their home. Before you list your home, contact your local municipality to learn if any open permits on your property exist.

Assessor Records

The town assessor observes the local real estate market and, for the purpose of property tax, can identify if your home’s assessed value is in line with the market.

If the market slows down, the assessor will not automatically lower the estimated value of your home and lower your property taxes. However, they will regularly go through recent permits issued by the building department and increase the assessed value of your home if any recent improvements or renovations have been completed that could increase the market value of your property. This would also mean higher property taxes.

Your property could be either over or under assessed. If it’s over, you should make a grievance to your assessor with any records or information that would support your case for decreased market value. Every local government has a system in place to deal with assessment grievances.

Stay One Step Ahead

Before listing the home, click here for the available government records on your property. Some issues, such as an open permit, can be easily fixed. If it’s a more serious issue, you should delay listing your home until it is resolved. Solving any of type of problems with government records ahead of time saves prevents any surprises from coming up later that could derail a sale.

For more real estate tips and advice, call Carol at 732-642-0950 or visit her website:  www.Homes2Love.For Sale