Jill Finkelstein - Compass



Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 2/21/2021

Image by Sue Smith from Shutterstock

House owners frequently remodel, upgrade, or otherwise make changes in their homes for which they do not secure a permit. While some changes do not require permitting, others do. The challenge comes when you attempt to sell the home. You may run into a problem when a buyer makes an offer on such a property, and their inspector discovers unpermitted changes. Their mortgage lender may be unwilling to give them a loan until you remedy the permit issue.

Additionally, since building codes often change from year to year and certainly from decade to decade, and the property may have changed hands more than once before it came to you. Even if the upgrade occurred before you purchased it, you might be the one responsible for fixing it with your municipality.

What can you do? When you believe your home has unpermitted construction, learn as much as you can about it:

  • When did installation take place? Before you took ownership of the house? After? 

  • What is the construction? A pergola? A sunroom? That necessary second bathroom?

  • In the year or era of construction, was a permit required? Is there a permit in place of which you're not aware?

  • Can it be grandfathered?

What is “Grandfathering”?

The term “grandfather clause” refers to an exception to a code, restriction, or legal requirement. It allows anything already done legally “at the time” to continue even if a new limitation would not allow it. Regarding unpermitted home upgrades, if the construction was before the change in the code, check to see if the code requires retroactive compliance. In that case, exceptions typically pose a danger to anyone living in the home or on the property and need remediation. When code changes do not require retroactive compliance, knowing the date of the construction puts you in the clear.

Retroactive Permitting

When you discover retrofits, additions, upgrades, or renovations in your home, search city or county records for a permit. Ask for help to see if that type of work in the year(s) of its completion required one. If it needed a permit, and you do not find one in place, either request a retroactive authorization or plan to sell your home "as is" to a willing buyer. Municipalities often have methods in place to offer retroactive permits. Check to determine the total cost of the permitting process. In addition to the permit fee, you may have to pay fines, inspections, and other fees. Any modifications required because of the permitting process become your responsibility. When the total cost of obtaining retroactive permits and related fees and construction costs is higher than the return on your investment, consider the “as is” process.

Selling Your Home "As Is"

When you choose to sell your property "as is," you no longer need to disclose to the municipal building department that you may have unpermitted construction. Until you are sure you want to request a retroactive permit, do not disclose information when you communicate with building code offices that might trigger an inspection. 

In the selling process, however, fully disclose to your real estate agent all items you know about for certain. That is, tell them about additions or upgrades you installed while in ownership. Make sure a sale is not delayed or falls through because a lender requires a permit. Have an appropriate "as is" clause written into the sales contract. 

Confer with your real estate agent to determine if seeking a permit is in your best interested when selling with unpermitted additions.





Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 2/14/2021

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Does anyone look forward to moving? Sure, it's exciting to relocate to a new home, a new city and/or a new neighborhood, but the physical act of getting your belongings from one place to another can often be time-consuming and stressful. The good news is there are steps you can take to make this process easier. It goes without saying that you should start as early as possible. In addition, keep the following tips in mind.

1. Use this opportunity to de-clutter.

Moving is a great time to rid your household of those items you seldom or never use. Whether it's collections, books, clothing or sporting equipment, take a close look at the items you're packing and make a pile to send to a local charity, to sell or to give away to friends or family members. You'll be grateful when you have less to unpack and find homes for in your new residence.

2. Label your boxes with colorful paper for easy sorting.

Create a color-coded system for each room of your home. Label your boxes with a colored paper so you'll know easily which room they belong in when you get to the new house. Sticky notes are a great option because they come in a variety of bright colors. Be sure to mark at least two sides on each box and secure the labels with some extra tape so they stay in place during transit.

3. Use small boxes for heavy items.

While it's tempting to fill large boxes to the brim, these can be back-breaking to carry from the house to the truck and into the new place. Instead, opt for small boxes for things like books, dishes, kitchenware and other heavy items. One book or one plate isn't very heavy but an entire set of them can be extremely difficult to lift.

4. Pack a moving day emergency box

Whether you are moving with or without a professional mover, you'll want to pack a box with your essential items and keep it with you. This can include glasses, phones and chargers, prescriptions, toiletries, important documents, cleaning products, a change of clothes for all family members and even a set of plates and utensils to use until you get all of your kitchen boxes unpacked.

Moving your household belongings doesn't have to be something to dread. Make your move less stressful by de-cluttering your rooms and closets before you move, marking your boxes so you know where to put them in the new house and making sure to pack an emergency essentials box.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 2/7/2021

Do you keep tabs on your HVAC system regularly? For many people, the heating and cooling system in their homes is an out of sight out of mind item. Only when there is a problem with the system do people think about it. 


The important thing for you to remember is that you don’t need to wait for an issue to arise for you to take continual care of your HVAC system. You can take action to continually have a supply of efficient, uninterrupted heating and cooling. With the right maintenance, your system will also run more efficiently as well. Keep the tips in mind below and show your HVAC system some love. 


Keep Regular Maintenance Appointments


As with most other things that we own, a little tune up from time to time helps to keep things running smoothly. You can keep a checklist of the monthly and annual tasks that you should complete for your HVAC system. You could ask your oil or gas company for some advice on regular tasks that you should complete as well. These could include everything from clearing out leaves and grass to changing air filters. Doing these things will not only help your utility bills and HVAC system performance, but can also help you to ward off allergens that may cause bothersome symptoms right inside your home.


Tame The Trees


While it can be tempting to want to disguise your outdoor units with trees and shrubs, these can do some damage. You should make a habit to trim any nearby bushes to your units as well as clear away debris. Be sure that the system isn’t clogged with pollen, grass clippings, and dust. There should be at least a 2-foot clearing around the unit to prevent damage and airflow restriction.


Inspect Before Each Season


At the end of each season, you should make a point to inspect your HVAC system. See what the system looks like from the outside. Is the system doing its job as far as heating and cooling go on the inside of your home? Does the system sound extra labored while it’s running? If there doesn’t seem to be enough airflow or there is too much noise coming from the system, then you could have a problem with your system. You may need to call in a qualified professional to help you remove debris from your system, as leaves and branches can get into the coils of it, severely impairing the system‘s function. A professional can also help you to learn how to properly clean the HVAC system yourself.


With a little effort, you’ll save big in many ways just by paying close attention to your HVAC system.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 1/31/2021

Believe it or not, an inspection may make or break a home purchase. And if a homebuyer fails to allocate time and resources to perform a comprehensive inspection, the consequences could be severe.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to conduct an extensive inspection before you finalize a home purchase, and these include:

1. You can identify any underlying structural problems with a house.

A home inspection provides a valuable learning opportunity for a homebuyer. In fact, an inspection can help you identify any underlying structural problems with a house before you complete your purchase.

During a home inspection, a property expert will examine a residence both inside and out. When the property expert has completed his or her inspection, this professional will provide you with an inspection report.

As a homebuyer, it is important to review all inspection report results closely. With these home insights, you can decide whether to proceed with a house purchase or reenter the real estate market.

2. You can assess the costs associated with various home repairs.

A comprehensive home inspection enables you to learn about a wide range of home problems. After you receive a home inspection report, you can analyze the costs associated with various home repairs as well.

If you find that home repair costs could be substantial, you may want to ask a seller to complete assorted home improvements. Or, you can always request a reduced price for a home due to its condition.

Furthermore, if you are overwhelmed by potential home repairs, it is important to remember that you can still walk away from a home purchase. And at this point, you can restart your home search from square one.

3. You can determine whether a home is a viable long-term investment.

A home generally is a long-term investment, and as such, you should strive to optimize the value of your house purchase. Thanks to a comprehensive home inspection, you'll be in a great position to do just that.

With an in-depth home inspection, you can identify a house's strengths and weaknesses. And if you feel comfortable with a house after an inspection, you can finalize your home purchase and reap the benefits of a successful investment.

When it comes to conducting a home inspection, it helps to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can put you in touch with the top local home inspectors to ensure you can receive expert support as you evaluate a residence.

Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent can provide throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent can set up home showings, help you submit offers on houses and much more. As a result, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to enjoy a successful homebuying experience.

Ready to pursue your dream house? Consult with a real estate agent, and you can receive plenty of support as you proceed along the homebuying journey.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Jill Finkelstein on 1/24/2021

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

You don’t have to worry about putting on a pot of coffee after dinner when you use these recipes. Make coffee part of your dessert for a delicious treat with just a touch of caffeine.

Coffee & Whipped Cream Brownies

A bit of instant coffee and some heavy whipping cream can spruce up regular brownies. Give this recipe a try for creamy brownies with a caffeine kick. To make this, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients:

  • 3 oz chopped unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 3 tbsps heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsps softened butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Start making this tasty brownie recipe by melting the unsweetened chocolate and butter in the microwave. Stir the chocolate and butter, and let this mixture cool a little. Beat eggs, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl, then add the chocolate mixture. Add flour and baking soda to the mixture, then stir. Grease an 8-inch baking pan, and add the brownie mix. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then remove the pan from the oven and let it cool.

    To make the coffee and cream layer, add the coffee to the heavy whipping cream. Let the coffee dissolve, then add the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Beat this mixture until it’s light, then spread it over the brownies. Place the brownies in the fridge until the coffee and cream layer sets.

    To make glaze for your brownies, cook the chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a small pot on low heat. Let the melted chocolate mix cool, then spread it over the coffee and cream layer on the brownies. Let the glaze set for about 30 minutes before cutting and serving the brownies.

    Coffee Ice Cream Cheesecake Pie

    When you can’t decide between ice cream and cheesecake, combine both with this simple recipe. All you need to make it are the following ingredients:

  • 2 8-oz packages of softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 pint of softened coffee ice cream
  • 1 pre-packaged graham cracker pie crust
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • To make this recipe, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer until it’s smooth. Add the milk, vanilla and sugar to the cream cheese, then beat until it’s creamy. Add the softened ice cream to this mix, then beat until it has a smooth texture. Add this ice cream and cream cheese mix to the graham cracker pie crust, then place in the freezer for up to 4 hours. Once the pie is firm, it will be ready to eat. Melt the chocolate chips in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave, then pour the chocolate mix onto the pie before serving.




    Tags: Cooking   dessert   meal planning  
    Categories: Uncategorized  




    Jill Finkelstein