Selling a house is one of life’s most stressful moments. In addition to relocating, you have to prep the house, find a realtor, and deal with appraisals and inspections. Things get a lot more complicated if your home has unpermitted work.
Texas is very strict about building permits, and this could land you in problems with the state. Fortunately, it is possible to legally sell your house. Read on to find the answers to all your questions about selling a house with unpermitted work in Texas.
What If a House Seller Didn’t Disclose Unpermitted Work in Texas?
It is illegal to conceal unpermitted work on a property when selling. Unfortunately, you may only discover these problems when it’s your time to sell. Usually, those problems are transferred to the new owner after closing.
Here are the two possible solutions to this problem
- Rescind the Purchase
Buying a house with unpermitted work rarely works in the buyer’s favor.
The main reason to avoid it is the financial implication. You will likely have to spend more money tearing down the structure or getting a permit for it. To be safe, withdraw your offer as soon as you discover unpermitted work on a property.
The best time to opt-out is before you sign the dotted lines. Fortunately, you will have plenty of opportunities to back out of a raw deal. In Texas, inspections are done right after the seller has accepted the offer. The results of the assessment determine whether you close or back out.
After the inspection, you are free to come back to renegotiate the terms. You can either request the house seller to remediate the unpermitted work or ask for a discount to cover the problem. Suppose you disagree on that walk away. Unfortunately, this option is off the table once you close on the house.
- Consider Taking Legal Action
Legal recourse would be an option if the previous seller did not disclose the unpermitted work. This goes against disclosure requirements in Texas. Unfortunately, the new owner becomes liable for any dangers posed by the unpermitted work.
You can sue the previous owner for misleading real estate practices. Their failure to reveal the unpermitted work means the inspectors couldn’t check for it at inspection. It doesn’t matter if the work was done before they got the house. Sellers are obliged to disclose if they know about it.
If you can prove such a case in court, the previous seller will compensate you for fines, property damage, and any injuries suffered due to the unpermitted work.
However, going to court has its downsides. For one, the wheels of justice are slow. In the meantime, you have to figure things out with the new buyer.
Remediating a House with Unpermitted Improvements in Texas
Selling a house with unpermitted work limits your options. Due to the potential risks involved, fewer buyers will be willing to close the deal. Those that want to buy it will expect a discount to sort out the issues. Rather than lose out on your home’s actual value, why not just fix the problem.
The biggest concern with unpermitted work is the safety of the future occupants of the house.
A simple solution to this problem is pulling down the structure. However, you will have to hire a licensed contractor. Trying to remove it yourself will only create more unpermitted work.
Additionally, you will also have to obtain a demolition permit from the planning office.
Removing the offending structures takes time and costs money. It is only a viable option if you are not in a hurry to sell. You could also take the opportunity to renovate the house and increase its value. Unfortunately, this won’t work if you need a quick sale or have limited funds.
Texas Home Improvement Permit Laws
Building permits are vital for almost all construction and home improvement projects in Texas.
The city issues a building permit after approving the proposed project. The main reason for licenses is to protect the health and safety of the public. The city ensures that all these projects meet the city codes by inspecting all new developments and demolitions.
In Texas, you need a permit to start new construction, make significant renovations, and rehabilitate a building structure. Here are examples of projects that require a building permit in Texas.
- Re-roofing and residing
- Building a fence over seven feet
- Removing or adding plumbing
- Installation of a new pool
- Replacement of ACs, water heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces
- Converting a garage to a living area.
Selling a House with Unpermitted Work in Texas
Selling a house with unpermitted work is never ideal. However, that doesn’t mean you can go on with the sale. It only means you will have to be more careful about what you do before closing.
Your approach will depend on your circumstances. Here are some possible ways to legally sell a house with unpermitted work in Texas.
- Sell the House “As Is”
Not everyone can afford to remodel their home before selling it. Even if you can afford it, you may be in a hurry to relocate for work or family reasons. Fortunately, there is another way out. Consider coming clean about the unpermitted work by selling your house as-is.
An “as-is” listing means that the house is on sale in its current condition. Unlike standard sales, the seller won’t be making any repairs before closing. So, if you are wondering, “Who will buy my house in Texas as it is?”, you can take advantage of online buyers that buy homes as-is. Under the Texas Property, an as-is agreement covers you from future legal issues.
The only downside to this route is that it lowers the market value. Potential buyers will come in expecting to find something wrong with the house. As a result, they give a lower offer knowing they will have to spend money to fix the problem.
- Get a Retroactive Permit
Unpermitted works always mean that the contractor did the job poorly. It could be that you or the previous owner just never got the finished work inspected by the city.
A retroactive permit allows you to get the license after the fact. It will enable the building department to confirm that the contractor did the work up to code.
However, for a retroactive permit to get approved, you must provide all the necessary documentation. It would be advisable if you had an attorney to help you legalize the unpermitted work.
If the work was done during your occupancy, this shouldn’t be a problem. In most cases, you will quickly get a hold of architectural, plumbing, and electrical drawings.
If you can’t locate these documents, you always get copies from the engineers and contractors who did the work. The problem is when the previous owner does the unpermitted job.
The building department might be more lenient if the previous owner did it. You may be exempted from paying penalties. If the city approves everything, you are free to proceed with the sale.
However, it is more likely they will request some changes. If the changes are minor, you can remedy them before the sale. For significant issues like selling a house with a foundation problem, consider listing the house “as-is.”
- Sell Your House to an Investor
Most buyers are very cautious when shopping for a new home. The first sign of danger and most people will abandon the sale. In fairness, nobody wants to buy a home. They will cost them even more after closing. However, there is one exception to the rule.
Real estate investors are always on the lookout for a great deal. They are often willing to take risks than the average buyer wouldn’t. Instead of listing and waiting forever for an offer, why not approach an investor. They won’t have a problem legalizing unpermitted work.
Investment firms will snatch up your property if unpermitted work is the only issue with a house.
They retain a team of lawyers, realtors, and investment managers. Additionally, they have the capital to remedy any uncovered problems. This makes them the best buyers for a house with unpermitted work.
“What about the time it takes? I’m looking to sell my house fast in Granbury.” Investors are, in fact, one of the quickest ways to sell your house.
Tips for Selling a House with Unpermitted Work
A house with unpermitted work will make most buyers easy. However, there are ways of making the property more appealing. Here are some tips for selling a home with unpermitted work.
- Be Transparent
It is tempting to hide the unpermitted work on the disclosure forms. However, this is against the law and could land in trouble later.
Honesty is always the best policy in such situations. Disclose this information and let buyers decide if they are still interested. If that is the only issue, you will still get reasonable offers.
- Get an Appraisal
Unpermitted work creates doubts in the buyer’s head about what else could be wrong. If the unpermitted work is the only hurdle, you can quickly alleviate these worries by getting an appraisal of the cost of work needed.
Get a quotation from a contractor on how much it would cost to resolve the problem. You can also cater for administrative costs and fines due. Fortunately, companies that buy houses in Arlington can skip all these bureaucracies.
- Offer Repair Contingency
If you don’t have time to repair the unpermitted work, consider offering a repair contingency. This is an agreement where you consent to give up a percentage of the total sale towards repairing the problem. In other words, you give a discount to allow for repairs.
There will likely be some back and forth on the cost of repairs. However, there is nothing you can’t solve with proper negotiations. You can learn more tips and make sure everything goes smoothly.
Unpermitted work could land in a lot of trouble if you fail to disclose it to the potential buyers. Unfortunately, disclosure often means compromising the value of your property. Usually, your options as a seller are tearing down the work or getting a retroactive permit.
Fortunately, real estate investors can take your house as-is. You will be saved from lengthy showings, costly repairs, and realtor commissions.
Contact a reliable investor in Texas today if you want to sell your house fast.