How to find Truth in housing reports

If you are  buying or selling a home that is within the city limits or St. Paul you need a truth in housing report.  The home owner pays to have an inspector who is a approved by the city do a complete inspection of the home. The inspection is required under city ordinance.

Here is a secret that many Realtors don’t know.  Anyone can view a truth in housing report on the internet. You can also look to see if the home owner has had any city permits for work on the house.

If you are a buyer and want to know more about a home before going to see it look at the truth in housing report.  The older homes in St. Paul often have multiple comments or code violations.  Home owners are not required to fix anything except all homes must have a hard wired smoke detector.

Sellers can get a list of the most common deficiencies and fix them before the inspection. It isn’t a bad idea for buyers to check out the list of common deficiencies so that the truth in housing reports make more sense.  I think I have seen a zillion of them.

Not all municipalities require truth in housing reports and in some municipalities like Minneapolis and South Saint Paul sellers are required to fix anything on the report that is considered hazardous.

In Saint Paul all open permits on a home must be closed before the sale can be closed. Usually it is just a matter of contacting the building inspector and having him sign off that the repairs were done correctly.

I have found that I have to check for open permits for my buyers because the law requiring that they be closed isn’t enforced very well and it is possible that no one will notice that the home has open permits.

February Slush

What repairs are required?

 There is a little house on the East side of St. Paul and it is on the market for slightly less than 15K.  At that price it may or may not be a bargain.

Can we talk?  The home is a category 2 registered vacant building which means that it has multiple code violations and they must be remedied before the home can be occupied.


 Anyone who purchases the home is responsible for the repairs and it isn’t a matter of painting or making the kind of repairs that the mister can make himself if he is handy they need repairs that require licenses contractors.  Permits need to be pulled and city inspectors have to verify that the work was done correctly.

You don’t need a Realtor® to investigate and find out what kind of repairs such a home needs but most Realtors® are happy to help.   If the home is located in St. Paul, MN all of the information included a letter from the city inspections department can be found on a web site.  

Home buyers can also find Truth in Housing reports for any home on the market in St. Paul through the web site. . . the city has a full time person who does nothing but move pages so that my web site is full of broken links but as of this writing the information you seek can be found here and properties can be looked up by house number and street. 

I often use the site when I find that work has been done in a home like a new addition or furnace it is my way of verifying that a permit was pulled to do the work and that permit was “finaled” by the city which isn’t the same as “closed”. [See city permit speak]  There are a couple of reasons why this is important.  

One is that if there is an open permit on a St. Paul property it can not change hands until the permit is closed.  . . .but I can add to that only if the title closing company checks.  The other reason I want to know is because if there is no permit and the work was done incorrectly future permits may require that previous repairs be done over and that can get expensive.