By Gary Singer Sun Sentinel 11:24 a.m. EDT, October 25, 2012
Board-certified real estate attorney Gary M. Singer answers housing questions in this space each Friday. To ask him a question about short sales, mortgages, refinancing, homeowner’s associations or any other residential real estate topic, click here.
Q: I am getting ready to buy a home, and the attorney just informed me that there are “open permits” on the house, but that I could close anyway. What does this mean?– Sandy
A: Insist that the seller resolve this prior to closing – or it will become your headache after you move in. A homeowner who gets certain work done is required to get a permit and pay a fee to the city or county. Usually, the contractor takes care of this. After the work is completed, the permit must be closed, often after an inspection by the building department. This final step often is overlooked as the contractor rushes off to the next job, leaving the open permit in place, sometimes for years.
The problem comes in when the new owner goes to pull another permit and now has to deal with getting the prior permit closed before the building department will issue the new permit. To close the old permit, typically a new contractor will have to inspect and possibly fix the old work, and the building department will have to come out and inspect.
This can cause quite an expense for the new owner. Also, be aware that not all closing agents will search for open permits or other code issues because they generally do not affect the ownership of the property. It is important to insist that an “unrecorded lien search” (known in the business as “lien letters”) is performed on every closing and that any issues that are found are fixed before closing.
(마이애미 한인) Q: My home is in foreclosure and I have tried twice to modify my loan without success. I have equity in the home and would like to sell it. Can I? – Savitrie
A: Absolutely. Even if you have been sued by your lender for foreclosure, you still own your home and have all of the rights and responsibilities of ownership until such time that the property is sold at the foreclosure auction. While you own the home, you can live in it or rent it to someone else. You would need the bank’s approval only if you did not have enough money to pay the mortgage in full and had to complete a short sale.
Every day that goes by, you are becoming more indebted to the bank because of interest and the costs and fees of the lawsuit. If you want to sell your house and cash out your remaining equity, I recommend that you do so quickly. Make your house look nice and hire a good real estate agent to help you sell the home for as much as possible.
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