Sweating the Township Certs

Real Estate Broker/Owner with RE/MAX Home Experts

Who said listings aren't any fun?  Here is a typical rundown of the listing process (very general terms):

  1. Market the hell out of it.
  2. Showcase it.
  3. Get an offer and negotiate.
  4. Come to terms and have a firm contract.
  5. Get through a home inspection and appraisal.
  6. Clear title.
  7. Order municipal required certs! Ughhh

Many townships and municipalities have requirements when selling a home. Some townships require a use and occupancy certificate be obtained prior to closing. This certificate may require an inspection by the township (and every township has different criteria needing to be passed). Often, this can be overlooked by listing agents and sellers until it is too late! 


Of course, every agent should have a reminder system (many automated) regarding the ordering of certs and other items necessary to make a smooth closing. I use Google calendar and add my clients so they also know when items are due. This makes both of us accountable (of course, I am more accountable than they are).  Instead of having a predetermined date for the township cert, I set a date following the initial listing date to contact the particular township regarding their requirements to sell a property. This way I know how much time I have to work with when ordering certs. Example: I recently had a fire certification in Evesham Township, NJ. They only perform inspections on Tuesdays and Thursdays. One can imagine how much notice is needed to have the inspector scheduled. Then you have to anticipate a failed inspection, so you will need more time prior to closing to perform the necessary repairs to schedule a re-inspection. Here are some questions sellers (and agents) should ask their municipality (typically licenses and inspections):

  • Give the property address and confirm that property is within the boundaries for that municipality (sounds stupid, but some people find out when scheduling the inspection the property does not fall into those boundaries).
  • Ask if the  can be completed by the agent for seller
  • Ask the costs (also ask about any expedited costs)
  • Ask for a list of requirements that will be inspected (provide this list to the seller so the seller can have these items completed asap).
  • Ask how much time is needed (and any cost) for a re-inspection should the inspections fail.
  • Schedule early - an inspector's availability is different depending on the time of year. Don't wait to set up the inspection. If something fails (such as a heating system) then perhaps the same issue may be included in a home inspection report and as a seller's agent you can negotiate that to be completed.

Remember, sometimes hardwired smoke detectors will alarm when using the test button but may not be triggered when the inspector tests using liquid smoke - so leave yourself plenty of time prior to closing.




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John Benson

Broker/Owner - Philadelphia Real Estate
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