Cash Home Buyers

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Selling a House with Unpermitted Work

Selling a house with unpermitted work can be challenging and may have legal and financial implications. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help navigate this process:

1. Understand the Implications of Unpermitted Work


  • Legal Issues: Unpermitted work can violate local building codes and zoning laws, potentially leading to fines or required removals.
  • Financial Impact: May lower the property’s value or deter potential buyers.
  • Insurance Problems: Some policies may not cover damage from unpermitted work.

2. Evaluate the Unpermitted Work

Identify the Unpermitted Work:

  • Types of Work: Common unpermitted work includes additions, electrical, plumbing, and structural changes.
  • Documentation: Review permits from the local building department to verify what work is unpermitted.

Assess the Condition:

  • Quality of Work: Determine if the work is safe and up to code despite being unpermitted.
  • Inspection: Hire a licensed inspector to assess potential safety issues and code violations.

3. Disclosure Obligations

Full Disclosure:

  • Legally, you must disclose any unpermitted work to potential buyers. Failure to do so can result in legal action against you post-sale.


  • Provide any available information about the work, including who performed it and when it was completed.

4. Options for Addressing Unpermitted Work

Option 1: Permitting the Work Retroactively

  • Contact Local Authorities: Discuss the possibility of obtaining permits after the fact.
  • Compliance: Make necessary modifications to bring the work up to code.
  • Costs: Be prepared for inspection fees, correction costs, and potential penalties.

Option 2: Selling As-Is

  • Price Adjustment: Set a lower price reflecting the unpermitted work and potential future costs for the buyer.
  • Buyer Acknowledgment: Obtain written acknowledgment from the buyer about the unpermitted work and their acceptance of it.
  • Cash Buyers: Focus on buyers willing to purchase the property in its current state without financing.

Option 3: Removing the Unpermitted Work

  • Demolition: Safely remove the unpermitted modifications.
  • Restoration: Restore the area to its original state or to a permitted condition.

5. Marketing the Property

Target Audience:

  • Investors: Often more willing to handle properties with unpermitted work.
  • Contractors: Buyers with the skills to bring the property up to code.

Highlight Positives:

  • Location and Other Features: Emphasize other desirable aspects of the property.

6. Negotiating with Buyers

Be Prepared for Lower Offers:

  • Buyers may negotiate down the price due to the risk and potential cost involved in legalizing or correcting the work.

Include Contingencies:

  • Allow buyers to include contingencies for obtaining permits or rectifying the unpermitted work.

7. Consult Professionals

Real Estate Agent:

  • Specialization: Work with agents experienced in selling homes with unpermitted work.
  • Strategy: Develop a pricing and negotiation strategy that reflects the property’s condition.


  • Legal Advice: Consult with a real estate attorney to understand legal obligations and to draft appropriate disclosure documents.


  • Cost Estimates: Get estimates for potential corrective work, which can be useful in negotiations.


Selling a house with unpermitted work involves transparency, careful evaluation, and strategic marketing. Ensure compliance with local laws and consider the best option that aligns with your financial and time constraints. By addressing the issue head-on, you can mitigate risks and find a suitable buyer for your property.

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