Buying or Selling a Home/First home buying


Hello, I am such a novice at even where I should start with looking into purchasing a house. The current house we are renting and the owner has asked us if we are interested in purchasing. I went on and the estimated value is somewhere around $70,000. We did have prior mold issues that was taken care of through the insurance company. The insurance company hired a professional restoration company to remove all of the mold.

The mold is one issue we have. Another is the fact that the house has had several additions that, to my knowledge,  does not have permits. When I called the city/county for permits, there was none listed for the amount of work that has been done (carport built into extension of house, third bedroom, closet).

A realtor that I know says to stay away from this house. But the owner/landlord says only $4300 down to get an FHA loan. I dont make a whole lot of money and so therefore was not looking for something expensive.  I would greatly appreciate any advice or guidance that you may offer. Sincerely,  Jared Cruz

Hey, Jared.

There are issues with every house, even newly built houses, and there is always someone willing to buy a house with unpermitted work. The issue with unpermitted work is that the city, in a worst case scenario, can require you to undo the work that has been done if the neighborhood is not zoned for such work.

For example, if someone built a three-story house in a neighborhood that is only zoned for two-stories. With building inspectors being underpaid and overworked, builders often try to circumvent the laws.

In a best case scenario, the city will require an "as built" permit, meaning that they will accept whatever was built without permits as long as you pay what often is an exorbitant after-the-fact building fee. If you don't pay it, then the city can fine you or require you to remove the unpermitted work. It can really get convoluted.

Additionally, since greater square footage and more bedrooms often result in a high property value and thus higher taxes, the city wants its money. Even if you resolve the permitting issues, your property taxes might be higher than you can afford, and you certainly don't want that.

Basically, you want to resolve any and all permitting issues while the property belongs to someone else because if you agree to take them over via a purchase, you'll be responsible for any actions against the property.

Before you move forward, ask the city to do "permit history research" on the property to find out what permits were applied for and if they were properly closed.

After you have done that, make sure you get a home inspection by the best home inspector you can find. If you need help locating a home inspector, let me know and I can help you there.

Good luck with everything!


Buying or Selling a Home

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Russel Ray


Through home inspections, I provide an education about real estate. I'm one of those rare home inspectors who has been involved in real estate in many different capacities: as a Realtor (in Texas), as a property investor/flipper, as a teacher, and as a marketing expert (for Realtors and home inspectors). I believe that my experience as a Realtor and property investor provides me with a different viewpoint about home inspections in that I work for my Clients, but when there are other people involved in helping my Clients, then I firmly believe in helping them, too. That includes Realtors (both the seller's and the buyer's), repair professionals (e.g., plumbers, electricians, etc.). If I can get all the players (seller, seller's Realtor, buyer, buyer's Realtor, and repair professionals) playing in the same sandbox together to accomplish goals as a TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More), then I believe I have succeeded in my job as a home inspector. My profession is, in my opinion, much more than simply documenting the condition of a property and then take the money and run. I am also a rare breed in that I don't believe that one inspection fits the needs of all Clients, and I have led the industry in understanding that fact. For example, the goals of a property investor are far different than the goals of someone buying a property to live in. The goals of a seller (a pre-listing inspection) are far different than the goals of a buyer (a pre-purchase inspection). To that end, I offer 14 different types of inspections, e.g., STANDARD, LIST, RENTER, BASIC, MAINTENANCE, SPOT, and more. I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt to all professionals in whatever industry they represent until they prove me wrong.


Over 42 years in all aspects of real estate--building homes, renovating homes, inspecting homes, Realtor.

National Association of Certified Home Inspector, Better Business Bureau of San Diego

Graduate of Texas A&M University; College Station, Texas

©2016 All rights reserved.