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Illegal Additions: Factors You Need To Be Aware Of When You're Selling

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Additions on your home that were made without the appropriate building permits can present some cumbersome obstacles when you're selling your home. A homeowner who is aware of illegal additions on his or her home and doesn't acquire a permit for them could be subject to fines if a building code enforcement authority becomes aware of them. Therefore, living in a home with illegal additions leaves a homeowner at risk of such enforcement measures.

If you made an addition like putting a deck or an extra bedroom on your home without seeking a building permit in the past to save money, you're unfortunately probably going to have to pay for it in the long run when it comes time to sell your home.

Although requirements vary by jurisdiction, just about any type of remodel or construction addition is likely to require a permit. If you had the addition constructed by an architect or contractor, he or she should have notified you of the permit requirements and assisted you in acquiring the permit. If you made an addition yourself as a DIY project, it was your responsibility to find out whether or not you needed a permit by consulting your area's zoning and building code authority.   

Being aware of the following two factors will help you to steer clear of further legal issues if you have made additions on your home in the past without first acquiring the necessary permit(s):

1. You are legally required to disclose information on illegal additions to sellers.

Those who have gotten fairly far along in the process of showing their home to potential buyers are probably already aware of the need to provide a disclosure statement. 

You need to include information on any and all illegal additions to your home in this disclosure statement, so make sure you mention them to your real estate agent to protect yourself from future lawsuits and other legal troubles.

If any additions were made on the home while you owned it, you are obviously aware of them. It would be considered dishonest and fraudulent of you to not disclose information about illegal additions to those who are interested in purchasing your home. 

2. Acquiring the required permit before selling may help you to close at a higher sales price.

Acquiring a permit isn't just about protecting yourself from legal liabilities. It's also about selling your home at the highest possible closing price. 

Buyers may be reluctant to match your asking price when they are aware of illegal additions because they know that this drawback of your property gives them some leverage in negotiating down your asking price. 

To learn more about real estate law and how your illegal addition could affect your sale, get in touch with a real estate law firm like Schulze Howard & Cox.