Many sellers ask me what they should do to get their home prepared for selling. Of course, there are the typical things to consider like clean the carpets, paint and make sure the curb appeal is eye catching. But many sellers don’t realize they should also check with the building department and assessor’s office to make sure the county records are accurate.
It seems as though lately I’ve been running into homes who’s recorded square footage does not match the “actual” square footage. Another thing that comes up are open permits for work done on the house. The worst thing a seller or buyer can have is a surprise!
So, I recommend being proactive. For legality reasons, the seller and buyer should go to the building department and the assessor’s offices( instead of the real estate agent) to investigate first hand what information is available. If there is an outstanding permit for instance, its best to know before we list the home. Issues can usually be resolved by either having an inspector come out and “final” the work or if this is an old permit and codes have changed it may just be best to disclose in the seller’s disclosures about the open permit.
If we are talking about a difference in square footage, then we can opt to have an appraiser come out to verify square footage. Appraisers will do a site visit and actually measure the living space. We can use that appraisal to support the difference in the square footage. We then disclose in the seller’s disclosures and the MLS listing that there is a difference between the county records and the appraisal. If you’ve had an appraisal done recently we may also be able to use that appraisal strictly for square footage verification.
Bottom line is we don’t want a buyer to find out while we are in escrow that a remodel was not closed out properly or that the home they thought they were buying is now smaller! So, besides all the cosmetic work that you may think to do to get your home ready to sell, also do your homework and make a visit to the county offices. It’s always best to be safe than sorry.