Content Contributed By: Blue Rybo-LoPresti
If you have code violations looming over your home, and you do not have the funds to repair those outstanding violations or pay the fines and interest, you may be thinking, “I need to sell my house fast before this gets worse.”
A huge concern for homeowners who are faced with violations is that potential buyers would not consider buying a property that does not comply with local codes and in turn, will try to lower the sale price.
If you are wondering if it is possible to sell the house without revealing the code violations to the buyer, the answer is a clear “no.” You are legally obligated to reveal all known building code violations. If you fail to do so, you could be responsible for any financial loss the buyer endures as a result of these violations.
Plus, any reputable title company is going to flag the violations during their search and they won’t insure the property for closing until they’re cleared up and paid off.
Step 1: Get Help
Contact a local realtor who is willing to help you address the violations. If you don’t have a realtor that you have used in the past, try calling around a few local offices and finding someone who has had experience dealing with code violations before. Code violations are often times confusing and therefore seeking professional help could help you resolve these issues quicker. A good realtor can schedule an appointment with your local violation code officer to discuss the details of your non-compliance. If your realtor has had experience negotiating with code officers in the past, then they should be able to help you sanction down the violations and get your house in compliance before selling.
You can also handle the code violation issues yourself with the city, but make sure to do research on your specific violation and get sound advise on how to proceed before doing so. You could wind up with the same violation all over again or even additional violations if it isn’t cleared up correctly.
There are typically seven common code violations that homeowners could encounter. Some of these code violations are simply cosmetic issues that you can comply with for a minimal amount of money and time. Examples of these violations may include mowing the lawn, landscaping the grounds to improve the appearance, draining or cleaning an unused pool, removing asbestos, or scraping and painting old paint. Repairing these types of violations could increase your home’s value and attract potential buyers by increasing its curb appeal.
Another common home code violation you may come across is electrical issues. Faulty electrical systems can be a big headache for homeowners. Problems with the electrical system usually mean that the homeowner must hire a licensed electrician to come out and resolve the issue.
Code violations regarding missing or broken fire alarms can be an easy or complicated fix depending on your home. If your house only requires you to have a few simple smoke alarms in the different rooms, then the problem will be easy to fix. However, if you are required to have a hardwired fire alarm system or sprinklers, the task of getting them up to code will become very expensive and time consuming.
Windows placed in dangerous locations can be another serious code violation. This would mean that the window must be removed and a wall put back in its place. You can imagine the high price tag involved with this repair.
If you are missing an expansion tank for your water heater you may receive a code violation. To remedy the issue, not only will you have to buy an expansion tank, but you will be responsible for paying someone to come out and install it.
Not having handrails installed on railings is another reason why you may have received a notice of violation. Handrails are mandatory if a staircase has a minimum of four risers (vertical boards between the tread of each step). Additionally, handrails must be between 30 and 38 inches tall as measured from the leading edge of the stair tread.
Zoning violations are some of the most difficult to deal with. If the house you have is not allowed in the current zoning of where you are located, you could be facing big trouble. Either you apply to the local municipality to have them grant you an exemption, or in extreme cases, the house may need to be torn down in order to remedy the zoning violation.
Step 3: If the Repairs are Too Much, Sell the Property As-is
If you decide that the repairs required to get your home into compliance are too much or you just don’t have the resources to do them, your best option is to sell the house as-is. You’re probably not going to get market value for your home because the buyer is going to have to put a lot of money and energy into resolving the violations, but you can still get a good deal at the end of the day. There are two main ways you can sell your house with existing code violations:
After you disclose all known violations to the potential buyers, especially the serious violations, which could be, fire hazards, electrical violations, structural/foundational damage, or zoning issues, some of them may be willing to repair the code violations themselves. If you find that this is the case, then the buyers will probably negotiate a lower purchase price because of the outstanding violations. Most buyers who would consider this option, end up hiring a contractor to inspect your home to determine if repairing the code violations are worth their while before they buy. They’ll then work with the city to negotiate the code violation fees so they can close on the property and complete the necessary renovations.
Oftentimes, buyers would rather not invest their own money to repair a house with multiple code violations. If you find that this is the case in your market, you may consider contacting a local real estate investor who would buy your house “as-is”, saving you all the money needed for renovations to bring your house up to code. Furthermore, you don’t even have to sell your house through a realtor when finding an investor who will pay cash for your house, ending the code violation issues right away. This option could be your best bet if you need the cash quick.
When making your decision to sell your home for cash to an investor, consider these additional benefits. With a quick cash sale to professional home buyers or investors, you do not pay realtor commissions, inspection fees, or closing costs which can add up to a lot of money taken from the overall selling price of your home. This gives you the extra cash in hand to help relieve your other financial expenses or use the money for relocating to your next home.
If you live in the OKC area and need help selling your property quickly, FixedProperties is a professional home-buying company ready to submit a fair cash offer, no matter what the condition of your home or code violations are. Get in touch with us to find out what you can do about selling your OKC house with code violations fast.