Buyer be aware

| No Comments

The internet is a wonderful thing, at times. It has made available information that would have been too hard to cobble together years ago. However, the information is only as good as the body putting it out. The body in this case is DCRA, which can be hit or miss.

On a lark I decided to give some houses I saw listed for sale the 1622 treatment (check the permits and owner's past history if it is 'newly renovated'). I did this with a house the Titan of Trinidad featured in his "Bargain or Hoodwinked" post about 1132 Neal Street NE, which sold. Anyway, I discovered via the PIVS that DCRA considers the soil to be unstable there. I found that shocking becasue most of the NW addresses I looked at never, never, had that statement.

There are other things you can find out as well, such as if the basement that's being hawked as a possible income unit has a certificate of occupancy. Of course, people illegally rent out their basements all the time around here. It's just that the DC laws favor tenants over landlords, so that it would be in an owner's best interest to get a CofO. The ease of getting a CofO depends on where the stars are, sometimes super easy sometimes very hard. But if you are buying a house with the idea that you'll be able to afford the mortgage if you rent out the basement, you can now check to see if that thing is legally ready to rent out.

When getting your house renovated you'll want to check out your contractor, but with a newly renovated houses, you don't get that option. In the craziness of escalating clauses and multiple offers, I gather judging the quality of the renovation is at surface level. With PIVS and the Permit tracker you can look back at the permits. Use PIVS to find all the permits and the permit tracker to see details of the permit, like who the agent is/was for the property.

If the house was renovated by a flipper, there is a chance to judge their past flips by using Blockshopper, where you can search by name. Blockshopper is a little behind with change of ownership, but it allows for seeing where in DC they had owned, provided their name isn't something like Mike Smith. Depending on the price of what you're buying you might want to ask people who the flipper sold to their thoughts.

Or you can buy a house for over half a million and be blissfully ignorant. That works for a lot of people too.

Leave a comment