PermitSearch.com, a provider of permit history reports is now live. A business that conceived of about 10 years ago is finally up and running thanks to a slowly evolving housing market. The reason this brilliant solution to permit access didn’t launch sooner was the pace at which municipalities digitize, or don’t digitize, their building permit information. And truthfully, municipalities still have a long way to go.
With two other business partners, I decided to get involved with the idea of permit search because frankly, it’s an idea that’s long overdue. If you’ve ever bought a house or piece of real estate, you’re probably aware that a home cannot be bought or sold without first checking for open permits. Open building permits mean that work was started but not completed – or at least never approved via a final inspection. That’s not safe for homeowners or local municipalities responsible for keeping residents safe.
If you want to look for an open permit on a house, you must first contact your local municipality to see how to obtain permit history information. As I quickly learned, figuring out who to contact can be a challenge, not to mention finding the right department to help with building permits. Once you locate the department, you will likely have to request permit information via an OPRA request which relates to the open records act. After a considerable wait time, you’ll receive a report that’s difficult to read. This information contains information that you’ll need to decipher. If you determine there are potentially no open permits, you can likely move forward in the process to buy or sell your home. The most challenging part is that every municipality works differently so getting this information and interpreting reports is inconsistent at best.
Enter a service like permitsearch.com. This service has been created to take the headache out of searching for permits. Once you know that you’ll be buying or selling a property, you can purchase a permit history report that details both open and closed permits – without the hassle of contacting your municipality, finding the right department, figuring out and submitting the permit history requesting, getting, and interpreting the report. Permitsearch.com contacts municipalities directly to acquire requested information and puts the information it into an easy-to-understand report. It’s that easy.
You might be asking yourself why this process of acquiring permit history, is so arduous. Or why services like permit search haven’t been available until now. The answer is pretty straightforward. Many municipalities are still not digitized. Even if a township keeps all permit records in digital form, they may not choose to license that data to the public or third-party providers. The result is a disjointed, manual process that slows down real estate transactions.
Companies like Permitsearch.com are developing partnerships directly with municipalities, data providers, and even making manual permit history requests in order to obtain accurate, up-to-date permit information.
Until real estate laws force municipalities to digitize and make data available to the public, acquiring permit history will continue to be a blend of manual requests and digital reporting. Both of these methods require human intervention leading to timing issues and often frustration. To simplify the process and remove the challenges of getting permit history during an already stressful time (of buying or selling a home), services like permitsearch.com become critical.