Selling a House with Code Violations? What You Can Do

Several things can cause your property to have code violations, and trying to sell it can be extremely exhausting. No matter why you want to sell your house, finding a buyer will be challenging when the property does not meet housing regulations. 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to sell real estate relatively quickly. Continue reading below for tips on how to sell a home with code violations. 

Can You Sell a House with Code Violations?

In short, yes, you can sell a house with code violations. However, either you or the buyer will need to bring the property up to code before the final sale if you want to avoid fines. The reason being is because most mortgage lenders won’t approve a loan for a house with significant code violations. 

The easiest way is to handle the problem independently, but you’ll need to cover the expenses. You could try and negotiate with the buyer by lowering your asking price, but most buyers will likely call the deal off if they have to put in the work. 

Try to figure out why your home has code violations and calculate the cost to resolve them. If the fixes are not too expensive, they will probably be worth repairing yourself. If it’s going to cost a lot, you can consider finding a cash buyer.

Are You Required to Bring Anything up to Code Before Selling Your House? 

Most homes were code-compliant at one point. However, local city codes are constantly changing, and not every property can keep up. In most places, you’ll need to bring your home up to code if it’s at risk of causing health and safety concerns. Neglecting to do so could result in expensive fines. 

Local city jurisdictions have their own requirements for sellers to bring a house up to code before selling. For example, you may need to replace lightbulbs in closets so that the bulbs are fully enclosed. Most of these upgrades are easy and relatively inexpensive. 

If you need to sell a home with code violations, it’s best to have a thorough home inspection to see if the issues are an easy fix. Most states legally obligate the seller to disclose any code violations in the sales agreement before selling the property. 

How to Know Which Is Required in Your Area?

You’ll have to check with your local city jurisdiction for the specifics of which building codes you need to meet. The most common code violations that typically require repairs are:

  • Electrical Panels. Many homes (especially older ones) have outdated electrical systems. Not only are they inefficient, but they can also be dangerous for inhabitants. As a result, most mortgage providers require that the seller upgrades their electrical systems to be code-compliant before listing their homes for sale.
  • Plumbing Issues. Faulty plumbing can lead to a wide variety of problems for a homeowner. Water damage can render a home unlivable if it gets too severe. The seller will likely need to conduct a home inspection to ensure all plumbing systems are working correctly.
  • Pests. A home infested with pests would naturally be extremely difficult to list for sale. Since they can cause safety and health problems, pests are a serious code violation. The seller will need to clear the pests from the property if they ever want to list it on the market.   

Options You Can Consider When Selling a House with Code Violations

Fix the Problem Yourself

Above, we mention that fixing the problem yourself is typically the easiest route to go. While you’ll need to spend the money, it will be much easier to sell your house once it’s up to code. 

Some code violations are easy and cheap to fix. All you may need to do is install smoke alarms outside your bedrooms. If you have an electrical or plumbing issue, it can be a bit more expensive to fix. However, you won’t need to lower your asking price (see below). 

Lower Your Asking Price

If the seller doesn’t want to fix the code violations on their own, it will be on the buyer. If the issues are minor, it may not be challenging for the seller to convince someone to cover the costs. However, any maintenance may encourage them to walk away from the deal.

One way you can convince them of the sale is to lower your asking price. Setting a lower price will give them the additional cash they need to make the home up to code. That said, you may still receive a lot of flak from potential buyers. 

What’s more, the buyer may have difficulty securing a mortgage if the house has code violations. This option is usually only a good idea if the repairs don’t require much money and are easy to fix. 

Find a Cash Buyer

If you want to sell the property as-is, the best way is to find a cash buyer. Since they won’t need a mortgage, they can move into the property right away and handle all the necessary repairs. 

With the assistance of a real estate agent, you can list your home on the open market. However, finding a reliable cash buyer can be tricky. Not everyone has the financial position to purchase a home outright, especially if your property value is high. 

That said, you and your real estate agent can try to create some attractive terms that would encourage cash buyers to give your property a shot.

Wrapping Up

No doubt, trying to sell a property with code violations can be tricky. You’ll need to know what codes your home isn’t compliant with and find the best solution so that you can list it for sale. You can consult with an experienced real estate agent to perform an inspection to determine how difficult it would be to sell your home as it is. For expert advice, reach out to us here at Kind House Buyers. We can help point you in the right direction if you need to sell a home with code violations.


Keith is a real estate investor and entrepreneur who truly enjoys helping others. He grew up in Washington where he graduated from UW with degrees in marketing and economics. Besides flipping houses, Keith enjoys cycling, and hiking the Pacific Northwest with his fiancee Amanda and their golden retriever Aioli.

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