If you’re planning on selling a home — or any building for that matter — in North Riverside in the future, you’ll need to bring one more document to the closing in order to seal the deal.

On March 2, the North Riverside Village Board voted unanimously to amend its zoning code to require property sellers not to require sellers to bring a stamped copy of their certificate of compliance, more commonly known as the pre-sale inspection report, to the closing.

North Riverside has always required sellers to obtain the certificate of compliance before a property can change hands. The law is familiar to local real estate agents and commonly followed.

However, there have been instances in the past few years — a time during which foreclosures soared — when properties change hands without a pre-sale inspection or even the village’s knowledge.

That’s especially the case when homes are sold at a sheriff’s auction to a company looking to quickly flip the property, said Karyn Byrne, code enforcement officer for the village of North Riverside.

“It hasn’t been a huge problem, but if we can do something to tighten it up, why not do it?” she said.

According to Byrne, the village has had two properties change hands via sheriff’s sale. In one case, the village found out about the sale when the fire marshal noticed roof work being done without a permit. In another case, a neighbor called to alert the village that a previously vacant home was being remodeled.

Whenever the village finds out about such transfers, it requires the new owner to get a certificate of compliance (the inspection costs $405) and settle any outstanding water charges against the property. For some homes in foreclosure, outstanding water bills can be hefty, said Byrne, as much as $1,000 or more.

The new code itself stipulates, “The certificate of compliance must state that the structure, building or dwelling unit complies with all applicable zoning regulations of the village, that a final water bill has been paid to the village … not later than five days prior to the date of closing and that all outstanding liens of the village placed on record upon the property in question have been paid to the village.”

When the property is sold again, the owner will have to have another pre-sale inspection completed in order to get a new certificate of compliance. The seller must then present the stamped certificate to the title company at closing.

Byrne said the village will notify title companies and the Cook County Recorder of Deeds of the new requirement so that a property’s title won’t transfer unless a seller presents that stamped document.

In the case of sheriff’s sales, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds will ensure the stamped certificate of compliance is on file before transferring title.

“This was a check and balance for us,”
Byrne said. 

— Bob Uphues