Often, a homebuyer will make assumptions about the new house: It is livable, it meets building codes, it has either passed government inspection or has been flagged for violations.
Such is not the case in Park County, Colorado, and the government admits it. Multi-million-dollar homes are not fit for habitation and the county has never inspected them and, further, says it doesn't have the ability to inspect future ones.
The case at hand
A recent investigation found that a mountain retreat in Fairplay, Colorado, had never received a certificate of occupancy from Park County officials. The home, built in 2006, was recently sold to a couple from Michigan. Upon taking occupancy of the home, they found disconnected plumbing, an improperly installed driveway and an undersupported deck, among other structural flaws.
Upon investigation, they found that the home had only received a temporary certificate of occupancy from the county. They also found a box of documents in the home outlining legal problems never disclosed in the sale.
More homes likely in same situation
What's worse, Park County officials say there are likely more houses in a similar situation. One official admitted that the county does not have the funds to assign resources to find all the houses being sold without certificates of occupancy.
It's a problem area realtors know well. One said he always checks county property records for certificates of occupancy. He has come across several that don't.
Even more troublesome is that although the home had been granted only a temporary certificate of occupancy in 2006, it has been taxed as if it were a legal home.
A lawsuit has been initiated against the sellers, the seller's realtor, the buyer's realtor, the title company, the mortgage lender, the home inspector, the appraiser and Park County.
The current owner has listed the home for several months but despite a hot housing market, she has had no luck selling the place. She said prospective buyers learn of the legal battles and decide to find another house.
Buyers want to buy a property, not a future lawsuit. O'Brien Legal helps buyers perform due diligence prior to closing to avoid situations like this.