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How-To Articles

How to Research a Property's Permit History Before You Buy

Whether you’re looking for a turnkey rental property or BRRRR deal, when’s the best time to ask this question and who can answer it?

This is a particularly important question since many investors waive home inspections. Even with a home inspection, obvious potential issues can but caught but not everything since it’s just a visual inspection. That’s why it’s an important question to ask before you write an offer for the following reasons:

> To see if the seller cut corners

> To verify the seller’s disclosures are accurate

> To explore how well any updates made by the seller will hold up over time

> To check if you will be able to remodel in the future without any extra headaches

> To verify the value of the updates

> To assist in negotiations for the property

How do you look up permits?

The best place to start is by taking a look at the city’s website where the property is located (see below example).

If there is not a way to look it up online in that particular city, there is often a phone number or email address for someone at the city that can tell you about the history. If that isn’t available, consider making a stop over at city hall, or wherever the building official’s office is located. Keep in mind that every city may have a different process and each property is unique.


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