When you sell your home, commercial, or rental property don’t let your realtor misrepresent the size of your property. In today’s market many people don’t need much excuse and will look for a reason to sue. There are some severe legal liability issues for you and the realtor to consider if the buyer can prove misrepresentation. Recently there have been court rulings against Realtors and Home Sellers for doing just that.
It’s easy to make a mistake, so list the source of any information you provide. Some people use an old appraisal, some use the tax records, some use information that was passed along by the previous seller or realtor. Some sellers have just taken the word of a neighbor or have included roof overhang, not just interior space. It’s not always easy to arrive at the correct number. Most appraisers measure the building’s exterior walls and use math formulas to calculate the interior square footage. The tax records often show footage taken from the original builder’s plans when he applied for the permit to build the structure. Many home owners have a copy of the advertising floor plan that they got from the builder’s showroom when they bought the home.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of ways to look at it. There are all kind of variables. It’s most common and accepted to just count the area of the home, office or commercial building or rental’s living or occupy-able space.
The key to staying out of trouble is the way the square footage is referred to when you try to sell it, in advertising such as on the MLS (Realtor Multi Listing Service), Newspapers, Flyers and Signs. If you refer to the square footage in any advertising at all, you need to list the source of that information. In most cases it’s the tax records, a set of architectural plans, or a certified appraisal. If you refer to one of those sources you should be okay, even if it’s wrong and you don’t know it. Some appraisers, architects and builders have been known to make mistakes themselves. Many times there may have been additions where no building permit was obtained, so the addition is not shown on the tax records. If that’s the case you may be the source and you will need to maintain a file containing plans and specs that will prove the additional footage and back up any information you’ve provided.
If you and your realtor have made your best effort to pass along the information you have and believe to be correct and make no attempt to inflate or misrepresent the numbers, you should be on solid grounds. I am not a lawyer and am not attempting to give legal advice. If you are in doubt always seek the advice of an attorney for legal issues.