FSBO ad lists 3BR/2BATH, but 1BR & Bath in finished basement are not shown in public records.

Asked by CM1225, 10541 Tue Apr 1, 2008

I recently found a FSBO house and am considering making an offer. The owner advertised it as a 2200 sq ft 3BR 2BATH home, but public records show the home as 2BR 1 Bath, with 1440sq ft. livable space, with and additional 900 sq ft "finished rec space". One bedroom and one bath are in the finished basement. I haven't gone to the town to see if permits were pulled for the basement bedroom and bath, but since public records show only 2BR and 1Bath, I'm guessing there are no C.O.'s for the basement bathroom and bedroom.

The house is priced similarly to 3BR 2 BATH homes in the area. How would you structure an offer, if you decided to do so?


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Susan, , Tennessee
Tue Aug 19, 2008
The fact that the bedroom and bathroom in the "basement" are not listed in public records has nothing to do with permits. They are not listed in public record because they don't count if they are in the basement. I own a home that is a bi-level and while it was listed as a 4/3 in the MLS, according to appraisers and public records it's a 3/2 with half the sq footage, because even though the lower level is mostly above grade, it's considered a basement and the Sq footage and the rooms don't count.
1 vote
CM1225, Home Buyer, 10541
Tue Feb 16, 2010
Thanks all. We bought a house in Brewster in July of 2008, but this is good advice for anyone else who may be considering a FSBO.
0 votes
William Butl…, Agent, Somers, NY
Wed Feb 10, 2010
Opps One more thing. Septic tank!! What is that home approved for in regard to septic allowance by board of health? It is not how many bathrooms you have but how many bedrooms you have that determines the size of your septic tank and leeche fields. that is another important thing to consider. good luck Chris
0 votes
William Butl…, Agent, Somers, NY
Wed Feb 10, 2010
HI Chris,
Fisbos OMG... and thats why they dont list with us! WHen I have a listing oportunity i go to town pull all records to see how many beds/baths sqftage, COs etc. I agree with everyone who has answered thus far. all correct especially Kathy. If you go foward with such a transaction and town has something different then what the fisbo is advertising, with the title search is done can change what the playing field is and may even impact what your bank may lend you. If you were going to get 500k for example for a 2200 sq ft 3BR 2BATH home, but public records show the home as 2BR 1 Bath, with 1440sq ft that will hold a different value in the banks eyes and may not get a loan. If you are in mahopac or carmel, go to town hall on Mcalpin ave off Croton falls rd and go to second floor to building dept. when i am there I bug Dennis or George. You will go to the desk and give the addres, unless you have the tax id for home. Then you will fill out a Freedom of information paper to view the file. then ask if some one can help you and ask for them. They are all helpful in that office. They are awsome when you have questions. Good luck!
0 votes
Kathleen Mac…, Agent, Yorktown Heights, NY
Tue Aug 12, 2008
Hi Chris,
You will need to check with the town regarding co's. Having no co's not only impacts the value of the home but could make getting title insurance an issue. If it is legally a 2 br 1 bath, it should be priced comparably to another 2br 1bath.
0 votes
trulia, , Brewster, NY
Sat May 17, 2008
Hi Chris,
I would have to agree with the advice that you have been receiving. You need to go by what the town has on their records. There is a very good chance that none of the work done has been approved. If you are considering making an offer on this house I would suggest several options. 1) get an agent and format your offer so they are including the commission in the sale price 2) get an attorney and 3) remember NY is a "Caveat Emptor" State- buyer beware. ALWAYS DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE!!!

For more help or representation, please call me,
Faith Ficarra
Web Reference:  http://www.faithficarra.com
0 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Mon Apr 7, 2008
There's the problem with a non realtor sale. The seller doesn't know they can't include a basement space with no cos in the square footage. I always require my sellers to get the co BEFORE they put it on the market. It can really hold up a sale to get them after the bank and title company notice. I would venture to guess if there is a deck, that doesn't have a co either. Bear in mind depending on the municipality, the basement may need egress to even obtain a co.
0 votes
Barbara Sawin, Agent, Jefferson Valley, NY
Mon Apr 7, 2008
Hello Chris
If you are going to do this on your own, you'll need to go to Town and determine what they have the house listed at regarding bedrooms/baths. Then you would make your offer depending on that. Again, remember unless you go thru the process of getting c/o's you will only be able to re-sell this house as it is listed at the town.
Good luck,
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Barbara Sawin
Houlihan Lawrence-JV office
0 votes
Larry Story, Agent, Greensboro, NC
Tue Apr 1, 2008
Chris I would structure the offer on the 2 bedroom & 1bathroom. You can go ahead to the city and ask about the permits that will give you negotiating points to backup your offer. Because you will have to have licensed contractors come in and bring everything up to code to get CO's for the newly finished spaces.

Larry Story
Coldwell Banker Triad
0 votes
David - Appr…, , Maricopa, AZ
Tue Apr 1, 2008
It is not uncommon for sellers (and some agents) to include basement bedrooms and baths in the total bed/bath count and square footage. However, for appraisal purposes, basements (finished or unfinished) are not included in the total GLA (gross liviable area) and are not valued the same as the above grade portion of the property, but as storage space with minimum value regardless of the use. For appraised value purposes based on what you wrote, that is not a 3BR 2 Bath home. It is a 2BR 1Bath with a basement and should be compared for valuation purposes to other 2BR 1Bath homes, with square footage closer to the 1440 range, that also have basements.
0 votes
Gail Gladsto…, Agent, 11743, NY
Tue Apr 1, 2008
I would hire a Realtor to represent me and protect my interests. And in this case, it is HIGHLY recommend. There are too many ways for you to get hurt here without having someone knowing what to do.

This is also a good reason not to purchase from an unrepresented seller or to try and sell on your own.
Web Reference:  http://GailGladstone.com
0 votes
Michael Trin…, Agent, Mahopac, NY
Tue Apr 1, 2008
Well make sure you go to the town ASAP because often those files get confusing, just when you think you found the c/o for a 2 bedroom house you then dig deeper and see there is actually a c/o for a 3 bedroom So once you do all your homework and if it still turns out to be a legal 2 bedroom and the owner is using the "den" as a bedroom then you should structure your offer based on a 2 bedroom house. Keep in mind when you sell you will have the same issue with resale it is only a 2 bedroom - so make sure you don't pay too much.
0 votes
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