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POLL: Do you check to see if permits were pulled on remodeling on subject properties? January, 2016 

My comment: A controversial topic. I’m not surprised at the results. However, if permits are online and free I don’t know why appraisers would not get them. In my city, free online records only go back to about 1970. Most of the homes were built before 1940. It costs $15.25 to get a full permit history and it can take up to a week to get it. The old records are a bit flakey, such as “remodeling” or something else very obscure. Lots and lots of unpermitted work in my city. But, in nearby cities with a lot of tract homes built since 1950, work without permits is not done very often. I was told by a lender’s chief appraiser many years ago not to pull permits so the borrower would “not get into trouble”.For quite awhile, I have been pulling the old permits when needed and run the online permits on all properties. In other cities, if something does not “look right”, such as an addition, I pull the permits.

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  1. Pulling permits is not, nor has it ever been part of the appraisers job. Anyone concerned about the appropriate permits having been obtained need to get that resolved BEFORE ordering the appraisal. Permitting is quite different from one county to the next with different agencies covering different things. In my county the local building inspection covers permits for fences, decks, additiions, houses, etc for only homes inside the urban service boundary and there are various factors that dictate whether a permit is or is not required which are not obvious by any means. In some counties there is no building inspection, zoning or code enforcement agency to verify much of anything. On farms no building permits are required except for septic and plumbing which are issued though the health department and State agency. Anything do do with plumbing is at the State level. Checking permits might confirm nothing other than a permit was obtained. It may not indicate that the work was done properly. If it is bad work, with or without a permit, it impacts value. The fact that a permit exists or doesn’t exist is not the appraiser’s problem.

  2. I feel that pulling permits is not within the scope of work for the appraiser IF there is no readily observable signs of defective or sub par construction. If there is an obvious addition and it looks inferior to the rest of the home that’s another story. It’s kind of like appraisers being responsible for things that a home inspector should be doing or even making us responsible for title discrepancies.

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