Building Permit History Reports Reduce Liability for You & Your Clients

building floor plan

In real estate, it’s important to reduce your liability wherever possible, so you don’t find yourself facing a lawsuit sometime in the future.

Building Permit History Reports from CRES are just one way you can reduce your liability. About  20% of real estate errors and omissions claims relate to permit issues. Whether you’re the buyer’s agent or the seller’s agent, there is potential for liability.

Permits are typically required for any upgrades to a property that necessitates oversight from local authorities. This includes home extensions, new pool installations, new garages, carports, verandas or other structural upgrades. Internal or cosmetic upgrades, such as painting or installing new floor coverings, usually do not require a permit, but adding or relocating electrical or plumbing may need a permit.

Safety is the main reason building permits are required. Work must be done by a licensed contractor to avoid any substandard workmanship and dangerous consequences. Compliance to construction code protects not only the property owner, but also neighbors and future owners of the property.

Complaints or, even worse, litigation against the seller or agent can arise where purchasers find out after they’ve completed the transaction that the property they bought doesn’t have the appropriate permits for upgrades carried out by the previous owner.

Building Permit History Reports provide valuable insight about property conditions and improvements, including additions and remodels which are not found in tax assessor data. Buyers will have peace of mind that all repairs, upgrades, or additions are up to building code.  And they’ll also know when permits have not been obtained, and there could be future issues. As a seller, these reports can be a valuable selling point, because they inspire confidence in the property among prospective buyers.

As a real estate professional, providing a Building Permit History Report to the buyer reduces your liability, because you’re are disclosing to the buyer whether or not permits have been obtained for upgrades on the property. This allows the prospective buyer to make an informed decision about whether to purchase the property.

How to Use CRES Building Permit History Reports

CRES Building Permit History Reports are drawn from over 90 million records obtained by on-site inspection sources. In our reports, we provide the following information:

  • Complete and Incomplete permits
  • Contractor name
  • Description of the work (including roof, pool, water/fire repairs)

Reports are available for both residential and commercial properties, and they’re easy to share with buyers via email. Building Permit History Reports are a valuable asset to both buyer’s agents, seller’s agents, and real estate brokers, and they offer an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competition.

CRES policyholders also receive a $2,500 retention (out-of-pocket claims expense) reduction when a Building Permit History Report is given to a prospective home buyer. With this incentive, CRES clients are taking the opportunity to use Building Permit History Reports to reduce their liability. One of our large brokerage clients is even requiring reports on every transaction!

Getting Started

CRES E&O + ClaimPrevent® policyholders receive 25 free reports every policy year.  For additional reports:

1. You can purchase a single report for one address, which can be billed through escrow

2. You can purchase via a monthly subscription, which allows you to obtain multiple reports each month (this subscription can be canceled at any time)

3. You can purchase multiple reports and use them within 12 months of purchase (this is the most flexible option).

View a sample Building Permit History Report from CRES.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Business

CRES E&O + ClaimPrevent® policyholders can access Building Permit History Reports through our website. Inquiries about Building History Permit Reports can be directed to permits@cresinsurance.com or call 855-237-8711.

If you’re not insured with CRES, please contact our friendly real estate E&O specialists at  800-880-2747. They’ll help tailor an E&O solution just for you. And you’ll also enjoy ClaimPrevent® Legal Advisory Services 7 days a week, so you can deal with issues before they become claims or lawsuits.

CRES has been protecting real estate professionals nationwide for more than 20 years. Building Permit History Reports are just one innovative way that we help protect you in your daily activities — far beyond any other real estate E&O.  

This blog/website is made available by CRES Insurance Services for educational purposes to give you general information and understanding of legal risks and insurance options, not to provide specific legal advice. This blog/website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. Claims examples are for illustrative purposes only. Read your policy for a complete description of what is covered and excluded.

Originally Published May 15, 2019

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