There are several things which sellers should research and discuss with their attorneys prior to listing their home for sale which can minimize delay and help ensure a smooth closing.Obtain a copy of your home's certificate of occupancyThe certificate of occupancy, or C/O, is a document filed with the Department of Buildings that sets forth the legal use for the dwelling and all improvements. Sellers should note that just because they purchased the house in its current condition, this does not necessarily mean the improvements are legalized.Most structural improvements, such as a garage, deck, extensions to the dwelling or in-ground pool, require a C/O and may additionally require a fire underwriter's certificate. Some improvements cannot be legalized depending on the situation. Examples of these are finished basements, which contain living accommodations such as a bathroom or second kitchen.If the dwelling does not conform to the C/O and steps must be taken to legalize or remove an improvement, a seller may be looking at extensive delays to closing as well as substantial costs.Determining whether the dwelling conforms to the C/O at the outset allows sellers to take corrective measures, address the issue in negotiations between the parties, or factor some costs into the purchase price. C/O's for Queens properties can be obtained for a small fee from the Department of Buildings at 120-55 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens. The department allows online access, including access to some certificates of occupancy, at www.ci.nyc
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