This comes by way of email. (Of course, with permission from the author of said email.) So you can be guaranteed this is from one pro to another.
First off, have any of you had any experiences or stories you can share that are on par with this one I am about to lay on you?
I closed on a property two weeks ago [removed] where I represented a buyer. They haven’t even moved in and were having some general work done, like paint, the floors, and some electrical work. The Seller stated in the supplement to the TDS that all work on the property had the necessary permits through the course of [their] 40+ years of ownership. The 3R [Report of Residential Building Record] indicated the kitchen was remodeled in 1980 and issued a ‘C’ completed.
Prior to moving in, my client was getting all the electrical outlets grounded and some lights added in the closets, and outlets added in the garage. Per my suggestion, they were doing all the work with permits. The city inspector came into the property and signed off on all the new work but also red-tagged everything not done with permits. This included 15-20 year old recessed lights wired to nob and tube, and the electrical service, which was also done 20+ years ago. My electrician, who happens to be very good and extremely honest, sat there flabbergasted as the inspector went about her business. He told the inspector that she was punishing the new owners for something they didn’t do. Of course, he’s right!
[The electrician] also told me that this recently happened to him on a job in Noe Valley. On that job, they made the seller legalize a kitchen and tear out the sheet rock and a granite back splash to inspect the wiring, which turned out to be fine and to code, however the granite back-splash no longer was. This is a relatively new development in both instances and a clear sign that the city is broke and looking for any way to generate revenue. Coupled with the sidewalk crack-fix stories I have heard lately, and never before has it become so clear that the city is on a witch hunt.
So what’s the rest of your experience with this matter? There are so few homes out there that can claim they are without fault in some way with their permit history. How do you advise a client that is either going to market a property where work was done without permits, or a buyer is looking to buy one where a significant amount of the property has been ‘updated’ without permits. This is truly a difficult matter and one that should be explored by all of Realtors in the real estate community in San Francisco as we try to best advise our clients. As time goes on, and as San Francisco tries to dig themselves out of a hole on the back of its citizens, illegally constructed additions may truly start to have an impact in ways that we are not used to seeing here in San Francisco.
Your thoughts please.
If we still had the 10,000 daily readers we did prior to putting this site to sleep, we’d bet we’d get some good responses. But since we’ve slowed down considerably on posting, let’s see which one of you can fan the flame of some good ol’ fashioned discussions. Anyone?