It seems that every other listing appointment I go to, one of the bathrooms or an additional bedroom, etc. is lurking in the background.... and I see that time and time again, the homeowner can be very indignant about either listing it illegally, or not wanting to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy.. some people perhaps bought their home with an extra bathroom or two, an extra room, and were not told of those minor details. Some homeowners perhaps finished that largebasement, installed a bathroom and bedroom for the maid or guests. Oh, and yes, forgot to get the certificate of occupancy! What is that?
When a home is built and then assessed for tax purposes, it is also inspected by the town's building inspector. He ensures that everything was done according to code, passes muster, so to speak, and grants a certificate of occupancy. Realtors usually call them C of O's for short. The tax assessment is based on everything within the house - namely those heated, habitable eight rooms per se, two bathrooms, etc. You pay taxes on those rooms...So it just makes logical sense that when you go to sell that house, you can only represent those rooms that are listed and recorded at the Building Department, that have the correct C of O's, and what you are paying taxes on.
I walked away from three listings the other year, where the owners indignantly insisted I list that one extra room. When I informed them that I legally and ethically could not, they gave the listing to another agent who would...And so, those homeowners sold their home, and with the knowledge of their agent, stating those extra rooms...The buyers bought a home that they obviously loved, but perhaps thinking it to be larger than it actually was. Obviously, the cost per square foot was far higher than they thought.
Do these buildings have a C of O? Ha!
If you have a home in New Rochelle that you know or suspect has those extra bathrooms or rooms, you can easily check here. Go to property portal, type in your address, and your tax assessment will pop up. From there, you will see a highlighted strip entitled "Assessment Card." Just click onto that, and you will then be able to see the property assessment card as it appears at City Hall. If you see listed eight rooms, then that ordinarily means four bedrooms - factoring in a living room, dining room, kitchen, family room. The bathrooms are not counted in this instance. However, you will also see how many bathrooms are reflected at City Hall on that same assessment card - and how many you are paying taxes on....What can you do if you wish to sell your home? Take steps to legalize everything prior to listing your house for sale.
In New Rochelle, there is an approximate $2,000 penalty for not legalizing at the time of construction, then you must obtain an architectural rendering of the room(s) concerned, a permit, and usually an electrician and plumber are required to 'sign off' on any electrical or plumbing work. The City Building Inspector will go to your home once everything has been filed and completed, and hopefully approve the C of O. Paperwork for the C of O usually takes another week to be processed, typed and mailed (or picked up). The personnel at our local building department are simply wonderful, and they have assisted me on many occasions in searching out a property. Don't be shy - they are there to assist not hinder. Also remember that August is vacation time, and everything at the building department will take longer. Call your realtor of choice who can assist you in giving several architect's names in the area who can help you in the process. Permit forms can now be accessed on the same web site as above.
I have been informed by our local County Board of Realtors that we can list a home stating a C of O is being obtained for X room/bathroom BUT we cannot then include the square footage or that bathroom in the listing remarks until the C of O has been obtained. You can only legally claim that which is currently reflected at City Hall at the time the property is listed.
Lastly, make sure you choose your Realtor carefully, one who will market adequately, and who has shown you all of the paperwork from City Hall (such as a copy of the building card, the Assessment card, proof of taxes (you cannot list your taxes inclusive of the STAR program), proof that your oil tank has been removed/is legal - this from the Fire Department) so you do not have any last minute, costly surprises. If you are buying a home, make sure your Realtor supplies all of this information to you too. New York is a caveat emptor state (buyer beware)...
The selling and buying process can be exhaustive, but it can also be fun. I am here for all of your real estate needs.
New Rochelle is GREAT!