Whether you’re buying a new construction home or a historic, vintage property, making sure the right codes and legal requirements on the building construction is a major component, especially if your financing the property. But, many older homes might have some issues that at the time, were not required to be up to code, but now that the property is for sale, does the owner have to bring the property up to code in order to sell?

Not necessarily. Building codes do change over the years so it would be almost impossible for every single property to update every single time a property is bought or sold to comply with each and every change. Many homes would simply have to be rebuilt, which obviously, is not the case. While health and safety concerns should be addressed, anyone can buy a house regardless of the construction or lack of up-to-date features. However, the issues, when you bring in a lender. Lenders may not want to loan money on a property that is not up to certain codes. Most legally required items that nearly every home should have includes working smoke detectors, working carbon monoxide detectors, and a strapped down water heater for earthquake safety. Other than that, there’s really no other point-of-sale legal requirements when you sell a home.

But again, it depends on your lender. If you’re buying the home with cash, it’s really up to you whether you want the owner to bring anything up to code or change anything. VA and FHA lenders do have certain requirements and most homes need to be fully inhabitable and up to code before they will loan money on the property. Conventional loans are slightly different depending on how much money are putting down. The larger the down payment, the less risk the lender will take on meaning that there willing to let something slide.

You can also purchase a home with a rehab loan. Perhaps you love the property but it needs a lot of TLC. You can apply for a rehab loan along with your original conventional loan or combine the two and perform any updates and renovations after you purchase the property.

Of course, you can always ask the current owner to do the repairs for you, but this is really part of the home inspection negotiations. Maybe the owner will take money off of the home, supply a credit at closing for the new buyer, or make the repairs themselves. These are typically three of the four ways a home inspection can go. Of course, the buyer can reject the home inspection and walk away from the deal terminating the transaction altogether.

If you have more questions on buying a home that may not be up to code or buying a vintage or older home on Mercer Island, Bellevue, or throughout the Seattle area, give me a call.


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