Building permits pay off for sellers

Guard yourself against additional work and expenses

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Curing deferred maintenance before selling usually improves a home's overall appeal, which can attract more buyers for a quicker sale at a higher price. Sellers typically do pre-sale fix-up as quickly and inexpensively as possible. This can lead to cost-cutting measures, some of which trigger unwelcome consequences. For example, one way to keep costs down and shorten the time it takes to get work done is to bypass the permit process. Some contractors charge less if they don't have to apply for permits, pay the permit fees and wait for building inspectors to sign off on the work when it's done. But, consider the downside. A homeowner in the Oakland Hills in Oakland, Calif., expanded his home to increase its market value. He used a licensed contactor but did not take out the required building permits. The house sold for a good price. But when the appraiser evaluated the property for the buyer's lender, he reduced the valuation on the addition because it hadn't been done with permits...