Permits are not optional..... Whether selling or Buying a Home!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC BK3064647

Last night my wife was watching one of those HGTV shows about flipping a house.  After the home purchase was completed an issue arose where there was a room added on as well as a porch roof which were not permitted.  
The "TV solution" was to have an architect draw up plans and have them submitted and permits retroactively granted.  (This was probably quicker and easier on TV than real lief!)
It did get to thinking about permits though.
No matter how much of a handyman you fancy yourself there is one rule to keep in mind:  Permits are not optional!

It is not necessarily about quality as much as it is about safety.   Folks are licensed for a reason.  It acknowledges minimum education level as well as creates a liability.

When most buyers go into a house they are often focused on the the big picture. The wow factors...the layout, overall appeal, etc.

A good buyer's agent needs to enter the property with an eye toward what may be an issue - whether disclosed or not.  (This holds true as well for a good seller's agent.)

While very few real estate agents are property inspectors or possess a contractor level knowledge there is a basic level of responsibility that comes with being a real estate agent.  There is nothing more "weaselly" than to read an MLS entry where the agent that states buyers must verify all the information provided as it is not warranted.  While all information should be verified this little statement does not absolve an agent or an owner from disclosing known issues that impact value.

There will be records (permits) that disclose when something more than basic (check local code) was done to a property.  The records will reflect if the final inspection occurred.

Occasionally I see MLS entries where the agent comments that the "tax records do not reflect"  whatever.... To me this is a red flag! 

As a seller's agent I recommend the issue be resolved before listing the property for sale.   If you are thinking about selling your home and have done some un-permitted work - fix it now before the deal falls through!

Accurate permits,  complete property disclosures and a pfessional property inspection are critical to the home buying process.

Your real estate agent will guide you along a path to minimize the chance you will inherit a problem to deal with one day when it is time to sell the home.

Thinking about buying a home in Viera, Florida?  Call or text me if I can help in any way!


Posted by

Gary L. Waters, is a Florida licensed real estate broker at  Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, Melbourne, Florida serving Florida's Space Coast including the cities and surrounding communities of Melbourne, Viera, Rockledge, Suntree, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach.

 Call or text me directly at 321-693-3850.



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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Barbara Altieri 01/05/2018 03:06 PM
Home Selling
Florida Brevard County

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Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

Dan Hopper - "Professional" contractors?  Seems like they really are short n professionalism if they don't push the permit issue!

Dec 31, 2017 08:04 AM #20
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

Mike Frazier  - And it creates problems when they go to sell for sure! Have a great new year!

Dec 31, 2017 08:04 AM #21
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty & Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

Great advice. I've seen the lack of permits put the brakes on a sale. It's important to do things the right way.

Dec 31, 2017 09:04 AM #22
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

In Portland Oregon all property permits are accessible online, by street address. This way a potential buyer can see what work was done and if final approval was granted. This helps a lot in the early stages of house-hunting and is so important to verify.

Dec 31, 2017 11:11 AM #23
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Reading this is music to my ears. A true professional will do the work and ensure that they, and their clients, are fully disclosing and doing the right thing! Like you, I see so many "weaselly" MLS comments.  

Dec 31, 2017 11:36 AM #24
Jeff Dowler
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Hi Gary

This often comes up as an issue, and I have even had contractors say that permits were not required in cases when in talking with the city I felt otherwise. Sadly, it becomes much more complicated after the fact to deal with unpermitted space, especially if the issue is raised by the appraiser. And you can bet the home inspector will raise the question in the case of space that has clearly been remodeled.


Jan 01, 2018 08:15 PM #25
James (Jim) Lawson, DBA LLC - Bonita Springs, FL
Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE

Excellent advice Gary. As you say few agents have experience in the construction and inspection areas. However, it doesn't take much effort to find out if there are any open permits which still need final signoffs, especially if rework is necessary or no work has been done. Also, agents without design, construction and inspection experience would be wise to have a rapport with professionals with expertise in these areas should they see something that might be an issue. Finally, it must be kept in mind that it is not only building codes that are of concern but zoning resolutions can also be impacted when changes are made to a property.

Jan 01, 2018 10:59 PM #26
Delphine Nguyen
Baird & Warner - Northbrook, IL

This is important advice. I do not think appraisers think about permits but I am sur the lenders would be nervous if their security contained unpermitted additions ar improvements. Thanks for sharing. 

Jan 02, 2018 07:42 AM #27
Lisa Bullerman
Keller Williams INTEGRITY - Lawrence, KS
Lawrence Kansas Real Estate Resource

Excellent post. Many consumers as well as agents don't have a clear understanding of the importance of the permit process. 

Jan 02, 2018 07:43 AM #28
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Lepic-Kroeger REALTORS - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist

I think that it is important as an agent to protect your clients.  If you represent a buyer, you research the permits and look at all information available.  Sometimes, I go back to previous listings of the home and download the previous seller disclosures as well.  If you represent the seller, you advise them to properly disclose anything that they know about the house.  After all, they will be buying another home and they would want the correct information as well.  I don't get too worried about whether something was permitted or not.  In our area, the contracts specifically say that the inspections are not meant to bring an older home to current local code so inspectors are not inspections for code violations.  They will point out safety issues and potential issues for the buyer to consider.  Great post and discussion.

Jan 02, 2018 08:54 AM #29
Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

I will never forget the home I saw where the seller had to remove a second story deck because it encroached 12 feet over the property line.  When they built it the lot next to them was vacant so they never bothered to get a permit.  Felt sorry for them to lose something they worked hard to get, especially since the permits were free when they should have gotten one. Lesson learned by all the neighbors.

Jan 03, 2018 07:41 PM #30
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

While I agree that some types of work need to be done by a professional for safety's sake, I am ever thankful that I live in an area that is not "permit-happy." It would drive me wild to be required to get a permit to paint my house or install a new kitchen sink.

Jan 03, 2018 08:51 PM #31
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

When should an agent investigate an issue or issues about a property? Whenever something on the property looks unusual or tampered. How should an agent seek an attestation from the seller's agent about any suspicious issue, especially if not noted on the TDS? Record it in writing and provide your suspicions to your home inspector. Being vigilant separates you from other agents and leads to more referrals and successes. Great post and information. 

Jan 03, 2018 10:08 PM #32
John Dotson
Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC - Highlands, NC
The experience to get you to the other side!

Gary,  What a great and timely post.

If every agent had your willingness to do the right thing and not try to sweep it under the rug or look the other way it would be so much easier to do real estate.

Buyers agents are especially susceptible to not looking out for their clients interests.

Jan 04, 2018 06:53 AM #33
John Wiley
EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great post full of information on permits.

In Cape Coral, Florida, work must be done by a licensed contractor.

Using an unlicensed handyman can result in the handyman and the homeowner being fined.

Using a licensed contractor and getting proper permits for the work will reduce the headache of trying to sell with permit issues.

Jan 04, 2018 08:54 AM #38
Sandra Paulow
Aspen Properties, Inc. - Pinetop Lakeside, AZ
REALTOR, Associate Broker, GRI, SFR

If permits are available this is a great plan.  In my area permits and all information relating to a property are purged every few years.  There are no records to pull.  I sold a place last year that was only ten years old and there was a question about a shared driveway.  No records to be found anywhere.  This was a nice home in a platted subdivision inside city limits.  

Jan 04, 2018 01:38 PM #39
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Gary -- Thank you for bringing up this very important topic.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have come across DIY work or even a seller who was not even aware that the contractor hired did NOT pull permits. Big offenders here are unfinished basements and new decks or additions to existing ones. It is SO important for a listing agent to be proactive when checking the property to be sold against town records. You emphasized this as well. Great post.

Jan 05, 2018 03:04 PM #40
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great post!  It's so wise to check for permits and ASK if something was permitted.  Too often homeowners have work done and try to take short cuts.  They get caught in the shorts when they go to sell!

Jan 09, 2018 07:13 PM #41
Zach Tetley
Nexus Homebuyers - Knoxville, TN
Real Estate Investor In Knoxville

Gary, you bring up some good points. When we buy a house in Nashville, we definitely want to make sure everything is permitted. We have run into multiple homes where unpermited work was done and nine times out of ten it's a mess. When you have successfully flipped multiple homes with a licensed contractor and trust their work, it just depends on the permit. I know in Nashville the inspectors actually try to slow investors down. We have investors we work with who finish houses and wait 4 weeks for the final inspection. 

Jan 10, 2018 09:37 PM #42
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Can't stress your message enough, Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC ... permits are necessary.    Read some of ActiveRain's inspector's blogs and you quickly know and understand why ...


Jan 18, 2018 11:28 AM #43
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