Discovering an open permit on your home can pose additional costs and delay the original timeline of your sale. Title searches don’t always catch open permits on a property, leading to further delays throughout the closing process.
Below, we’ll cover what an open permit is, how it may impact your home sale and your options for selling your home with an open permit in Massachusetts.
What is an open permit?
Open permits are permits that were issued by your county or municipal government that have not been finalized and closed out by the local governing authority. Open permits are hard to uncover, as they typically don’t show up on title searches.
Your local government may issue permits for home improvement projects such as:
- Building an addition
- Pool installation (in-ground and above-ground)
- Demolishing load-bearing walls
- Altering the layout of the home
- New electrical wiring
- Fences and decks over a certain height
- Changes to the sewer line
- Adding a garage
- Installing fireplaces or wood-burning stoves
- Cutting down a tree
- Replacing the water heater
The government will monitor the projects to ensure local zoning restrictions and ordinances are adhered to. Once the work is completed, there must be a final inspection before the permit can be closed.
How to apply for a permit?
The process of obtaining a permit varies depending on the requirements in your area. Generally, it involves:
- Contacting your city, town, or county to find out if a permit is required for your project
- Presenting your plans for the proposed work
- Receiving approval to begin the project
- Starting the home improvement project within six months of permit issuance
- Getting a final inspection once the project is complete
The final step is often what causes a permit to remain open, which can significantly delay the sale of your home if you don’t catch it early. Most open permits exist without malicious intent from homeowners. In many cases, they simply didn’t receive a final inspection report from their contractors and forgot to follow up. This is why open permits are typically only discovered when one tries to sell their home.
Can you sell a house with open permits?
Many local governments are cracking down on open permits and will require you to resolve them before selling your home. Additionally, title companies and mortgage lenders may advise the buyer against closing on the house if they discover an open permit on the property.
Since most title companies don’t check for open permits, it’s important to do your own research. You could have an open permit on your property and not even know it. It’s best to be proactive and do some digging early on in the sale process (or even before listing your property) to avoid delays.
How to close an open permit on a house
The first step is to contact your local government to find out if there are any open permits on your property. If you do uncover open permits, reach out to your city or town for guidance. The process of resolving open permits varies widely by location, which is why it’s important to go straight to the source.
You will likely need to reach out to the contractors that completed the work for help closing the permits. It’s usually the contractor’s responsibility to open and close permits on their projects.
Selling a house with open permits
Concealing open permits is never advisable, and some regulations require you to report any material defects on your property before selling. If you discover your house has open permits, there are a few things you can do.
Close the open permit before listing your property
Closing an open permit before listing your property will help ensure a smooth sale process. Start by running a permit check through your local government’s website or visiting their office in person.
If you discover an open permit, you’ll need to contact your local county and ask them what needs to be done to close it. You’ll often need the original contractor to close the permit, which they can usually do at no cost.
Offer the buyer credit
Your second option is to keep the permit open and instead offer the buyer a credit or other incentive, such as a reduction in closing costs. You want to work with your real estate agent to negotiate a fair deal with the buyer for the inconvenience of leaving them with the open permits.
Sell “as-is” and record the permit on the seller’s disclosure
If you find open permits on your property, you can choose to keep them open and work with your agent to list the permits on the seller’s disclosure. However, be aware that this might result in less interest in your property. Although the title search may come back clear, many buyers will be advised not to make an offer on a home with open permits. In this case, working with a reputable real estate investor may be your best bet if you want to sell your home quickly and painlessly.
The bottom line
Though discovering open permits on your property is inconvenient, it isn’t the end of the world. You can choose to resolve the permits by contacting your local government and contractor. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle, you can list the open permit on a seller’s disclosure or sell as-is to a real estate investor.
We’ll buy your home with open permits in Massachusetts
Resolving open permits on your home can be time-consuming and stressful. We know you want to sell as quickly as possible, which is why we’ll pay cash for your house in any condition. We’ll also take care of any open permits on the property to make the process as easy for you as possible.