No permits, no problem: How sellers avoid trouble

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Dear Barry, Now that I'm selling my home, I'm concerned about improvements that were done without building permits. In some of your articles, you stressed the importance of disclosing nonpermitted work to buyers. But will this disclosure really protect me from liability? --JoAnna Dear JoAnna, We live in a sue-happy world, with no absolute protection from legal liability. Regardless of what we do, we can be sued for doing something wrong, and we can be sued for doing nothing wrong. Fortunately, we can take steps to reduce our levels of liability, but we can never eliminate that liability completely. When selling a home, full disclosure of nonpermitted work reduces your liability, but the way that you frame those disclosures can make a critical difference. A common mistake that many sellers make is to state or imply that all work was done correctly or "according to code," even though it was done without permits. Such statements can get sellers into deep trouble. Un...