It's a common story. You've purchased a promising residential property for a speedy fix and flip. You are trying to swiftly execute your renovation plan and get the property to market as soon as possible. The main hiccup at this point is you need permits and you can’t get a clear answer regarding the status of your application. So, what do you do?
A situation like this can be hazardous to your real estate deal because excessive delays could mean you are selling your property in a different market than you planned. While you wait and wait for permits and inspections on plumbing, electrical and structural improvements, a hot market could be passing you by.
Although not entirely in the borrowers control, there are certain steps and actions that can be taken to help keep the process moving in the right direction. Here are our tips:
Make BFFs in the Permitting Office
It is critical that borrowers forge professional and amiable relationships in the permitting office so that they can keep tabs on the various permits required throughout the renovation process.
In order to achieve permitting success through personal contact, follow these critical steps:
Be an Educated Applicant
The borrower/house flipper should do everything they need to do to learn the permit approval process. Peruse the county’s website, call or physically head to the permit office to speak to someone about what you need to turn in, what the process is, how long it typically takes and who the right people are to check in with throughout the process.
Smile through the Pain
Always have your best face on when dealing with the permitting office. You don't want to ruffle the feathers of the people responsible for approving your applications. Even when paperwork holdups are threatening your project's outcome, be very sociable and have a pleasant demeanor so that you stand out in a good way. If you impress them with your positive attitude and your patience, the staff is likely to update you on where things are in the process or even go out of their way to take a look at your submissions.
Put a Face with the Name
Always drop off permits in person to ensure you get facetime with the staff. Only once you fully understand the process should you hire a permit expeditor that is seasoned and well-versed in county requirements to help push the package through.
The Right Lender Can Help
In addition to taking the relationship approach, borrowers should look for a hard money lender that is already deep-rooted in the industry and knows people in the building and permitting space. A well-connected lender can offer valuable advice and link you to key players which will keep the project timeline moving at a good clip.
[ Friendly Tips: How to Choose a Hard Money Lender]
Walnut Street Finance recently had the opportunity to help one of our customers through a tough situation:
Our borrower had permits stuck in approval purgatory for nearly four months. He was paying interest on a project that wasn’t budging because he couldn't get in touch with anyone in the permitting office for answers.
With our decades of experience and connections in the industry, Walnut Street Finance was able to identify the appropriate points of contact for the various permits, reach out to them directly and get a real-time status update.
We connected our borrower with a great permit runner that we work with in order to expedite the process and had the permits approved two weeks later. Our borrower was back up and running and could finally proceed with construction. He finished the job and it looked maah-velous. He sold the property a day after listing it - above asking price and before he could even hold the grand open house.
When it comes to getting the right permits in place for your fix and flip project, who you know can be just as important as what you know.