Relocate to Wisconsin : Overreaction of the year...Claimed the Listing Agent

Overreaction of the year...Claimed the Listing Agent

  In Wisconsin...finished lower levels are is what we is what buyers caves, workshops, play rooms. If you have an exposed lower is a whole extra level of living...with those people who  count "square feet" Square to include bedrooms, baths, kitchens, rec rooms, theatre rooms, as additional living space...egress windows and patio doors to the outside make so "un-basement' and so "lower level."  

     Homeowners get creative with this level...relocating buyers especially from areas that do not have basements are thrilled with all the extra living area finished lower levels provide.  One of the things that we are extremely particular 

Permitsabout is permits.David and our home inspector have eagle eyes when it comes to spotting clues for work that may be hiding behind the drywall....the plumbing, electrical...that may have done without a permit...and by someone "handy" and not licensed in any particular trade of aware of the code compliance that the area requires. 

      Having finished a home inspection...the signs were everywhere...wiring not being properly and cold water reversed in the wet bar....the water heater controls inaccessible because they faced the wall....and so the amendment began to address these things...if permits were not pulled and these things corrected....the Buyers were out of the transaction.

    "Overreaction of the Year !"  cried the listing agent..."Lots of Wisconsin basements are fJump in the lakeinished without permits !"  (I could hear my Father saying..."If everyone else jumps in the Lake are you going to jump too ?")   Because it's "common practice" doesn't make it right.

    Having seen what lies behind the tied with twine...wiring that resembled a creative puzzle of some sort....we are very careful when it comes to permit.  If there is a fire....a the insurance company going to cover these incidents when the construction was not done properly ? Hmmmm...

    There are remedies for everything...overlooking and ignoring them in our practice is not one of them.

    If you or anyone you know, is looking to Sell or Buy a home in southeastern Wisconsin...permit Sally K. & David L. Hanson, Broker Associates at Keller Williams to interview for the position of listing or buying will be glad you did.


Sally K. & David L. Hanson, ABR, CDPE, CSS, e-Pro,ILHM, REDS

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Comment balloon 61 commentsSally K. & David L. Hanson • December 09 2017 12:56PM


Good morning Sally and David. The issue of permits needs to raise its ugly head if the seller is guilty! Enjoy your day! 

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker (Wayne M Martin) 6 months ago

Good morning Sally K. & David L. Hanson ,

Good practice to have it all checked out. We can go online with the City of Austin and check permits and see if they were pulled and also finished and approved. You are right if there is a fire or a leak the insurance will be checking to make sure its not workmanship error!

Posted by Dorie Dillard, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) 6 months ago

That kind of reaction, Sally and David, reminds me of when I would say to my mother "all my other friends do it." And she would reply "if they are jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge are you doing that as well?" No different with this permit issue... who cares about the other homes who didn't get permits. Besides, I don't need my own clients inheriting a problem not of their making that they have to deal with one day when they go to sell the home.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC) 6 months ago

Sally K. & David L. Hanson "Overreaction of the Year !  cried the listing agent..."Lots of Wisconsin basements are finished without permits!"  Because it's "common practice" doesn't make it right."

Some things just make you smile and shake your head!


Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) 6 months ago

Good morning, Sally K. & David L. Hanson we always run into this situation.... before we list a property, we visit the building dept, and check what permits were signed off and when.... of course, we ask the seller first, before we do our research to verify and to test the truthfulness of their answers ... often we catch them!!! and we insist they visit the building dept, pay the penalty plus the fee for pulling the permit and hope they catch the commissioner in a good mood so they don't need to expose too much of the finished room (s)...

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) 6 months ago

"Square Feet"... I get it... I get it!

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) 6 months ago

As I tell Buyers, Sally, you just can't trust sellers always to be Barbara does checking the local permits pulled are a must...who likes to follow the dummies into the water...some do!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) 6 months ago

When the signs are there, buyers should beware of a job that wasn't well done leading to major problems down the road.

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) 6 months ago

We have the ability to do business. Each one should do what it takes to do so

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) 6 months ago

Oh, yes, those endless handyman stories... What puzzles me is often times the same people who were insisting on everything done by licensed people, after buying start remodeling and use handymen for what requires a short sighted

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) 6 months ago

Sometimes I think listing agents forget,  as a buyer agent you answer to the buyer and their sellers' opinion about law, disclosure, permits is irrelevant to that process. Personally, I appreciate a diligent buyer more set of eyes.

Posted by Tyra Hatcher Mitchell, Southern Maine Realtor (Alliance Realty) 6 months ago

Fortunately, your clients had your expertise to know what to look for and ask for corrections.  Overreaction, I think not.  Potential fire hazard to say the lease.  Perhaps.

Posted by Shirley Coomer, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az (Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living) 6 months ago

People don't understnad that permits are not optional!

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, ... a small office, delivering big service! (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) 6 months ago

This is the only basement I know to be completely to code.

And that is that.

And, yes, the balls are Redskins/Dallas and house rules are that Dallas never wins.

And that is that.

This is just one quarter of four quarters of a room to code.

And that is that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 6 months ago

Your clients are lucky to have you on their side as an advocate in this regard, Sally K. & David L. Hanson .... it could just save their life, let alone their dollars  ...


Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) 6 months ago

I think thats a good catch! way to go above and beyond!

Posted by Dennis Swartz, ABR, CRB, GRI, MBA...experience counts! (Full Circle Property Management) 6 months ago

It's hard to get away with doing work without a permit around here - thankfully. Permits are required to be posted in a front window and if the police or any Village workers happen to drive by and see workmen around the house and there's no visible permit - well, you can imagine!

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) 6 months ago

Congratulations on your feature recognition. This is good reading for prospective home buyers.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) 6 months ago

Sally and David- lucky is the buyer who has you looking out for them!!! Those permits and codes are not there just for fun. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 6 months ago

Inferior workmanship is noted in the Appraisal, at least with FHA, and the Underwriter always wants to see the permits.

Posted by Raymond Denton, Shady Canyon Homes (Wholesale Capital Corporation) 6 months ago

Sally K. & David L. Hanson 
Yes, and we had one where the added room had no -- as in ZERO -- connection to HVAC at all! Imagine that in the 100-plus degree heat in Atlanta!
You saved your Clients!!!
All the best  -Lynn

Posted by Lynn B. Friedman, Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers (Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ...) 6 months ago

Amazing reaction. Really, a buyer doesn't need to know that things have been permited or built to code? We also due our due diligence when listing - and helping buyers - to ensure there are permits and such on record, or that they can be produced. D 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) 6 months ago

Sally and David, Realtors have a fiduciary responsibility to your Buyers and making sure those they are representing are protected is primary among those responsibilities.  Great job in representing your Buyers.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) 6 months ago

Hi Sally and David - we had a town home many years ago and we finished the walkout but with a licensed electrician and licensed plumber.  That was ok for our buyers even though it was not filed.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 6 months ago

Permits are there for a reason, often for safety reasons. Work has to be done correctly.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) 6 months ago

Hi Sally K. & David L. Hanson - Flips are really susceptable to cutting corners.  My buyer got out of a contract yesterday because of exposed wires (among other problems). It was a cash deal so the seller was not going to budge.

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 6 months ago

I would say the listing agent had the underreaction of the year. Unpermitted is one thing, badly costructed additions are even worse. Good for you for catching that and saving you buyers heartache.

Posted by Jane Peters, Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market (Home Jane Realty) 6 months ago

I just had a similar discussion with an agent yesterday. The basement was finished by a builder and he didn't pull any permits. So now to comply, the seller is having inspections and permits pull and paying the fees. The listing agent is hoping all will come out okay.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) 6 months ago

It is similar here Sally K. & David L. Hanson and I am the same way. Finished lower levels are very popular, but need to be finished correctly. I would like to say i cant believe an agent would say it is an over reaction, but i can....

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) 6 months ago

Yes, conformity with locl planning and codes is very important, especially for the reasons you mentioned plus resale.Non-conformity is not welcomed by banks or new buyers. Good article!

Posted by Delphine Nguyen (Baird & Warner) 6 months ago

Hi Sally and David -- quality makes a difference --- whether the topic at hand is construction or representation --- it does make a difference.  

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 6 months ago

Just because something is common doesn't mean it is right. You make some great points. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Corey Martin, Real Estate and Management Solutions (Martin Presence Group) 6 months ago

great post about the potential pitfalls and what to look for when it comes to permitting.  We see appraisers call this kind of thing out too and it can make the financing process a mess!

Posted by John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852 (Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA,) 6 months ago

Hi Sally and David

Our clients are lucky to have you on their team. THat basement could have been a mess not only for the appraisal and lender but just from a safety issue. Just a tad bit of liability for the agent and the sellers.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad (Solutions Real Estate ) 6 months ago

Listing agent is a jerk and a menace. Sorry, a pet peeve of mine. I had a listing agent earlier this week make a similar ignorant statement. I admit I lost my temper with her.

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (REALTY EXECUTIVES TUCSON ELITE) 6 months ago

Overreaction is often claimed by the party who is not being taken advantage of Sally K. & David L. Hanson 

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Professionals.) 6 months ago

This will be funny overtime, but it never seems that funny when it first happens

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) 6 months ago

Third parties can be that way unfortunately. It’s a common story

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) 6 months ago

Morning Sally.

Congratulations on the feature.  I like the "eagle eye", it sets you and David apart from the rest of the group.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) 6 months ago

Both of you are good real estate agents. Your clients are lucky to be working with you

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) 6 months ago

Buyer Agents need to be more than a "door opener".  Particularly in "Buyer Beware" states.  Yet I see so many just running on to the next transaction without taking all the due diligence steps necessary for their clients.  As primarily a Listing Agent, I never take issue with questions posed as I then know the Agent is doing a proper job and is sharing the responsibility of checking all the details.

Posted by Betsy N. Robinson - Serving the Sandhills, NC, CNS (Everything Pines Partners, LLC.) 6 months ago

Twenty years ago there does't seem to be that many unpermitted upgrades but today you can spot them relatively easily. Just like the sore thumb of a handyman who wields the hammer. Great post!

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) 6 months ago

I've run into these Realtors around here as well, Sally and David.  They make a lot of noise, but when I ask them to write this down to show an attorney or to a judge, they seem to lose their voice quickly.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) 6 months ago

If you are going to do something, do it right or don't do it at all.

Posted by Bob Betel, President, Allstar Home Mortgage, Inc (Allstar Home Mortgage, Inc.) 6 months ago

Good post and the buyers are fortunate you were able to find out work was done without permits.And it could have been a problem with the appraisal and lender as well.

Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate - Arbor Real Estate (Arbor Real Estate) 6 months ago

Here on Cape Cod, we also have conservation activity / restrictions / dock licenses / etc., as well as the permit issues. Holly and I, like you, also work hard to be thorough for the buyers and sellers we work for. We believe that the era of information is upon us, and we are rising to the requests for information and solutions from our sellers and buyers.

Posted by Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker, Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA ( & 6 months ago

Great post Sally and David.  It's our job to pass on the information.  Whether or not the information is accepted is another story.  You can lead a horse......etc.  In my area of Florida, garage conversions can spell trouble for a buyer or the seller for that matter.  "Forewarned is Forearmed!"

Posted by Chris Lima, Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you. (Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise) 6 months ago

The central section of San Jose is often left over from the county unincorporated neighborhoods. Roads were paved over old farming dirt or gravel roads. Homes and backyards added in law quarters sometime two stories all done w/o a permit. Now the investors are jumping on wagon dividing small homes on dual lots or those incorretly zoned as R2. One sees a two or three story home looking over someone backyard with one story below. What a mess!   The only way is fix is rebuild the entire area. 

Posted by Sam Shueh, mba, cdpe, reopro, pe ( (408) 425-1601) 6 months ago

"Over reaction of the year!"  ?  Perhaps, but its the potential buyers reaction and the seller's agent  has to come to grips that buyers will perform their due diligence.  With your help & extertise of course.

Posted by Brian Rugg, Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est (Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-966-3200) 6 months ago

The workmanship was a tad casual. Knowing before buying is better for everyone. To avoid court house steps and billable hours over the heart ache. It's hard tellin' without knowin' is another expression Sally K. & David L. Hanson !

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) 6 months ago

Definitely not an overreaction. The owners may have been fine living with this situation- but when asking someone else to assume the risks they dealt with- it is a different standard- and they shouldn't be surprised.

Posted by Adam Feinberg, NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse specialist (ANCHOR ASSOCIATES) 6 months ago

This goes with a realtors' responsibility of doing his or her due diligence and disclosing to everyone involved in the transaction.

Posted by Jean Alicea, Home suite Homes (Home suite Homes, Inc.) 6 months ago

Wow! Where was the responsibility to disclose that permits weren’t obtained?

Posted by Melissa Spittel, "Achieving Results Together " (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 6 months ago

Sally & David,
The agent who called this the over reaction is underwhelming in his duty to his client. I feel like the listing agent should have asked about the permitting issue in advance. When Stevie Wonder could see the issues it should be disclosed up front at the least and probably corrected before listing the house. As a REALTOR when we “suspect” there are not permits we must ask and disclose.

Morris “Bill” Austin

Posted by Morris "Bill" Austin, Exceptional service is my standard expectation. (Team Price Real Estate) 6 months ago

Full disclosure and documented attestation of all structural and electrical repairs or additions are essential in addition to the TDS especially when it appears that any changes to the original property were made.  

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) 6 months ago

Unbelievable, Sally! Didn't you just want to say, "Overreaction, my ass?!!" 

Agents in this business never cease to amaze me - and they still have licenses??Go figure!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 6 months ago

And they probably wanted to base the sales price on that below grade space as though it was above grade to add insult to injury.

Posted by Jon Sigler, South Windsor Homes for Sale 860-306-8029 (Keller Williams - Greater Hartford) 5 months ago

Here in Florida, we do not see lower level finishes, but we do see a lot of older homes with garages enclosed and made into a bedroom or family room.

Many are not permitted. It is not an overreaction to address these issues, it is being responsible and doing due diligence.

Great and informative post.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA (Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty) 5 months ago

My first question would have been, "Do you have the permits?"  

Posted by Christi Farrington, ~ Your representative in Fairfield County, CT (William Raveis Real Estate - Wilton, CT) 5 months ago

Hmm...  Not an overreaction, just an under disclosure.  The first thing I do after securing the listing, is visit the code office and check the permits. In many cases,  a seller has pulled a permit but never closed it out.  Needs to be corrected or disclosed!

Posted by Margaret Mitchell, Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty) 5 months ago

During a remodel, you just don't know what corners have been cut until it's too late.  There doesn't seem to be much pride in workmanship like the old days.  Good advice in this post!

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Specializing in Brookside, Waldo, Prairie Village (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) 5 months ago