Not only is it a good idea for buyers to check the permit history on a home before they buy, but sellers are wise to check the permit history on their homes before putting them on the market. This way, they can correct any permit issues before the listing goes public.
Some cities require building reports to be pulled on properties before they are sold. There is a cost to pull the report, but it should be under $100. Normally, the seller pays for it, but like everything else, it’s negotiable.
I just had a situation where the building report was delayed. When we finally got it, we were a week away from the close of escrow. The report indicated that there was a permit for use of the frontage of the property. Apparently, the city owned the first 20 feet from the street onto each lot. Each homeowner had to pay a permit for permission to use this footage. This permit was required to be transferred from one owner to the next at the cost of $700. Fortunately, the buyer and seller agreed to split the cost of the permit so they could close escrow.