How to Avoid Problems with Closing on Your House

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More than likely, you’re excited about closing on your house.  But, have you done your due diligence?  Will you be able to get a certificate of occupancy without problems?  Not sure what could go wrong?   Consider this example.

You’ve decided to purchase what has been represented as a three-family home in Union County.  The house has two large apartments.   The current owners have converted the garage into living space and have a reliable tenant.  Your plan is to allow the occupant to stay on.  After all, the rent will help you pay your mortgage.

Sounds great in theory.  That is until it comes to applying for the certificate of occupancy.  The garage is considered an illegal apartment.  Too bad you just learned of this important detail just before you were ready for the  closing on your house.

Last minute discoveries make for difficult circumstances.

The seller has represented the house as a three-family home.  The local building inspector says differently.   Paperwork will need to be changed to reflect that you are actually buying a two-family house.  Of course, there’s also the issue of displacing the tenant.

Avoid Issues when Closing on Your House

Financing issues are a problem of their own.  The mortgage company may make last minute requests.  You could experience cash flow difficulties.   Although not every town requires a certificate of occupancy, you should still make sure you’ve done your due diligence.  Closing on your house requires preliminary work.

We’ve already talked about the importance of oil tank inspections.    However, there are other considerations that will help you avoid problems when it comes to closing on your house.  Here are some questions that should concern you:

  • How is the property zoned? Is the area classified for residential?   Is it listed for single family or are multi-family dwellings permissible?  Do you plan to run a business, such as a garage or beauty parlor on your premises?  You will then need to know if zoning laws permit a mixed use property.
  • Did the seller get the necessary permits for any construction/renovation work?
  • Is the house equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors?  Is there a fire extinguisher on the premises? Will it pass fire inspection?
  • Was a garage or basement illegally converted into an apartment?
  • Will the property pass routine building assessments, such as plumbing and electrical inspections?
  • Are the heating systems in good working order?
  • Is the street address visible at least four inches from the road?

These are some of the major areas of concern when it comes to obtaining a certificate of occupancy.  Whether it is a prerequisite to your purchase or not, you should perform due diligence to avoid problems when it’s time for the closing on your house.

Contact Us

Need help with closing on your home?  Contact the Law Offices of Lawrence Centanni to see how we can make the process easier for you.

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