Profile picture for myriamsitterson7

Big Square Footage Difference

The MLS in Miami, Florida lists the home as 2246 Living Area and it's actually closer to 1700! What is my recourse since I already closed on the home. I paid for more than 500 square feet that the home does't have!
  • October 31 2013 - Miami
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Answers (27)

Profile picture for aw hbeach
Agent posted in MLS 300 sf addition, it was only 161 sf addition. She posted 2,000 sf house, it was only 1952 sf house. All information was easily available, but she decided to use larger numbers since they made property looking cheaper...

The problem seems to be spread all across the US.
  • September 09 2014
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Square footage is a pretty important element in a real estate transaction.  You're right that you certainly have an issue.  I would recommend consulting with a real estate attorney in your area for advice on the best way to handle this situation.  I have heard a buyer could sue for the price per sq.ft. that you paid for the difference that was misrepresented however all states are different so your best option is consulting with your local attorney.  Hope that helps!  Good luck!
  • September 09 2014
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Profile picture for londonbarcelona
I just bought a home in Palm Beach Gardens and our home WAS appraised.  However, she didn't go by the lower number in the tax records, she instead went by what the listing agent had posted. Which is 600 hundred square feet less than what we paid for.  The tax office online has the house listed 1t 4278 square feet, the appraiser listed it as 4872.  We had it independently measured after (as in the case above) both our wood floor specialist and the carpet people had much smaller square footage. SO we hired an independent appraiser to remeasure. Sure enough -I t's 6 HUNDRED square feet less than what we agreed to pay for. Am I angry? You bet, I'm going to see what legal recourse I have also. EVERYONE lied to us and that's really pitiful.
  • September 09 2014
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Profile picture for myriamsitterson7
Apparently, this wouldn't happen in a lot of other places and yes, I am in the Wild Wild West of real estate and no one really knows what they're doing.
  • November 01 2013
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You're not in NC, are you? You're in FLA, right? You are in the equivalent of the wild wild west of Real Estate. NC is the equivalent of the ultra conservative Southeast. Sue somebody. There's a 5% chance you'll win. In NC, you could complain to the Board of Realtors, and they might fine, or discipline, the Agent. Suing the Agent, and prevailing, would be a totally different matter. There's NC case-law against your assertion. Anyway... I hope you continue to learn from this experience. One word you should memorize is appraisal.
  • November 01 2013
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Profile picture for myriamsitterson7
just found this from the North Carolina Real Estate Commission

Agents' Responsibility

When reporting square footage, listing agents are expected to personally measure the properties they list and accurately calculate their square footage. They must not rely on tax records, information from a previous listing, or representations of the seller or others. The listing agent will be held accountable for the accuracy of square footage information the listing agent reports to prospective purchasers - including information obtained by purchasers from property data sheets and MLS data banks.

Agents working with buyers (either as a buyer's agent or seller's agent) may rely on the listing agent's square footage representations unless there is a reason ("red flag") to suspect that the information is in error. If there is a "red flag" regarding the reported square footage, the agent should promptly point out the suspected error to the buyer and the listing agent. The listing agent must then verify the square footage and correct any error in the information reported. While agents of the seller (including those working with buyers) may rely on the verified or corrected figure, agents employed by buyers must independently measure and calculate the square footage if the buyer has any further interest in the dwelling, and the buyer's agent must advise the listing agent of any errors found.

Real estate agents are expected to be able to accurately calculate the area of most dwellings. Agents who are inexperienced in calculating square footage should seek the assistance of their brokers-in-charge or more experienced agents. And where a complex, odd-shaped dwelling is involved which presents measuring problems not contemplated by these Guidelines, even experienced agents should seek the help of a State-licensed or State-certified appraiser or an experienced engineer or architect to assist them in solving the problem(s). In areas where the prevailing practice is to report square footage in the advertising and marketing of homes, agents whose policy is not to calculate and report square footage must disclose this fact to prospective buyer and seller clients before entering into agency agreements with them.

Hmmmmmmm....

  • November 01 2013
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Here is an interesting discussion of the issue.

I think my point has been missed.

REA's are not all experts. Very few of them are experts. Nothing in Agency Law or the Law of Fiduciary Arrangements says that being an "expert" is a requirement. It may be a plus, but it is too subjective to be a prerequisite.The Transactional Agency framework in Florida makes the fiduciary element a nonstarter.

To call someone, or one's self, an Expert, is a matter of vague characterization. To blindly rely on the word of another person, in a business transaction, even if they claim to be an expert, is naive and economically negligent. To do so in a FLA Real Estate deal, is ludicrously negligent.

I agree with Beth Jenkins about the broad brush.
  • October 31 2013
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Hi!
Yes, I would advise anyone to measure or get an inspection.  I have never had anyone waive it, even with a cash buyer, which is what most of the buyers here in Miami are.
 MLS data is not warranted, it is printed on each sheet.   I deal mostly with condos and it is fairly easy to verify sq. ft.  With a house, it is the tax roll that is the only resource. 
No, it is not the realtors job to do the due diligence, only to advise the client.

Let us know what happens,

Beth Jenkins
  • October 31 2013
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Well, this is important. Did she represent you as a selling agent for this deal, or was she a "transaction agent?" It should say so right in the contract . . . 
  • October 31 2013
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Profile picture for myriamsitterson7
@Beth Jenkins

I was under the impression that due diligence was the realtor's job and that's why we hire them as licensed professionals. 

One of the attorneys I spoke with is a Harvard grad with honors. He did not measure his home when he bought it. He relied on the numbers given to him. He later discovered the home was not the size stated either when he was making improvements a few years later. He's a real estate attorney, by the way.

Are we now expected to measure a home before we buy it because the MLS is not reliable? I find that absurd!





  • October 31 2013
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Profile picture for myriamsitterson7
My agent was a friend and we never signed any contract on agency because I knew I could trust her as a person and she me. She just apparently doesn't have the expertise I needed. Now she does! She's looking for a home herself and no longer trusts the MLS, the Tax Appraisals, the inspectors or the seller's agent! 
  • October 31 2013
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Hi All,
I feel this situation is being painted with a broad brush by the person asking the question.
ALL REA's are not interested in just the commission.  I value my clients for the long term relationship and to hopefully have them refer me future business.  That is a Realtors bread and butter, and we also become friends with many of our clients.   
In your case, the responsibility of entering the correct info was with the Listing agent.  If you worked with a buyer agent, the only possible way they could know that the interior space was less than recorded was for you to have an inspection.  It is your due diligence.  The agents primary job is to be sure they are representing you properly within the contact and to protect your funds, fairly and honestly.  They cannot get an inspection for  you.
I do not feel you are taking responsibility in this situation, if the tax records show a certain number the only way your agent could  dispute this is with an inspection, period.
We are not all greedy, unethical people.  If I was making a purchase I would use every resource at my disposal to be sure protecting my investment and  it is called due diligence.  You will never win that in a real estate dispute.
Just my 2 cents.  I like my job and do not like to be considered a person just out to make a buck.  That can be said about many professions, by the way.

Beth Jenkins 

  • October 31 2013
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Did you have an agency relationship with your broker, or were they a "transaction broker?"
  • October 31 2013
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Profile picture for myriamsitterson7
@Steady State, I agree with your response to Hamp Yonce. 

We, as consumers, rely on the experts in the real estate industry and on the information provided to us via the MLS and an industry that is licensed and supposedly "regulated." I believe the consumer is being taken advantage of by the real estate industry. The buyer's agent is basically a transaction broker, and is probably just interested in making their commission, since their commission is paid by the seller. This makes no sense to me and it seems that the consumer/buyer is left to their own devices while the agents makes their commission regardless of the accuracy of the information they are using to sell homes. I still believe it is gross misrepresentation and intend to pursue and expose this aspect of the industry to other consumers, even if I'm not able to make any claims on my transaction. 



  • October 31 2013
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For opinions on "recourse," you will need to seek legal counsel.

  • October 31 2013
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Hamp says: "I feel certain the REA's, and, if need be, their attorneys', will swear under oath that their square footage "estimate" was essentially "vague characterization ... The facts of life are that every thing any REA ever said is/was a vague characterization."

See even those statements were vague characterizations. And further, my vague characterization of REA's as opinion-ist, is only my opinion. I could be overly vague in my characterization.
  • October 31 2013
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Profile picture for SteadyState
Hamp says: "I feel certain the REA's, and, if need be, their attorneys', will swear under oath that their square footage "estimate" was essentially "vague characterization ... The facts of life are that every thing any REA ever said is/was a vague characterization."

But if this is reality how can Realtors claim  that they are fiduciaries or even that they look after the interests of buyers. It makes me believe that the Realtor's only obligation is to sell the property fetching the best price for the seller (this goes for both listing agents and selling agents).
  • October 31 2013
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Good luck with all that. I feel certain the REA's, and, if need be, their attorneys', will swear under oath that their square footage "estimate" was essentially "vague characterization". Look up the definition of estimate. Then they will simply state that you chose to waive the right to have an appraisal done, since you were paying cash. And, you didn't read the fine print on the MLS Listing Sheet. Nor, did you bother to measure the house, personally. In other words, you appeared to know exactly what you were doing.

The facts of life are that every thing any REA ever said is/was a vague characterization. But, Ive only been doing these things thirty years, so I could be wrong. Let us know what happens.
  • October 31 2013
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Profile picture for myriamsitterson7
I have spoken with two attorneys, thus far. One told me I had no recourse and the other said to file a complaint with the FREC, which I am going to do and to advise the Miami Daily Business Review of my situation so that they can publish an article about it. 
  • October 31 2013
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Profile picture for myriamsitterson7
Thanks all for your responses. The MLS square footage is supposed to be living area, under A/C, which is very different from the Tax Appraiser's number, which includes garage, porches, open areas, etc. It is a misrepresentation for the MLS to take the Tax Appraiser's number, which is an outside measurement, according to the Appraiser's office who I spoke to. The home was a cash deal, so no bank appraisal was necessary. We ran comps against similar homes in the neighborhood, assuming we were actually given the correct square footage of the home. There is no "vaguely characterized" in the MLS! That is the number consumers use to determine what size home they want to buy. The home was measured by two flooring companies and two contractors when I started to do improvements on it. This is not a small difference in numbers, this is 600+ square feet.
  • October 31 2013
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What did the appraisal say? The 2246 is probably total square (garage, porches, etc...) footage and was vaguely characterized as living area. What you're hung up on is the amount of conditioned living space versus living area.

The figure was probably culled from public records which are usually based on total square footage. If the appraisal is right, you will have a hard time proving you paid for anything you didn't get.

Buyer's remorse is an easy feeling to generate. Stop analyzing after the fact. The time for analyzing has past.

You aren't missing a bedroom or anything are you? What lives in the garage, your cars or your junk, or your gym equipment? Do you ever sit on the porch?
  • October 31 2013
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Most MLS sheets state that squre footage is estimated and should be confirmed. If the sqaure footage was conveyed as being fact that is another matter and could leave you with some recourse. Best to contact an attorney 
  • October 31 2013
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Profile picture for SteadyState
Did you have a Realtor help you with your purchase? I believe there may be a case if your agent did not directly state that you need to independently verify statements made by the seller. In this case, square footage appears to a material fact whose false representation led you to pay a premium for the home. Get legal advice and start suing the Realtors involved.
  • October 31 2013
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Unfortunately if you have already closed on the home you are probably stuck. Most Purchase agreements state that the square footage is approximate and not deemed reliable. I would have an appraiser come out and double check the square footage. I would be very surprised if it was off by that much.
  • October 31 2013
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Profile picture for Outer Banks N C
I am curious how you arrived at the square footage. Often people measure the inside areas and add them up and that will always produce a smaller number. Basically you bought what you bought.
  • October 31 2013
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This is not unusual....the mls is not to be relied on.

If you had an appraisal, the appraiser should have measured.

Where are you getting your measurements from?  If the tax record shows the property as smaller, it is possible that they added on to the house and did not pull permits...the additional would then not be recorded.
Did they close in the garage or screen  room?

If you think that someone intentionally misrepresented the size than you need to speak to a real estate attorney to see if you have any recourse.

Eve
  • October 31 2013
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Hi,
MLS data is "believe to be accurate but is not warranted".  This something  I have never ever heard of, there is always comps done, documentation, inspection, title work, etc.  that would tell you the actual square footage in plenty of time before closing.
I don't really understand how this would ever happen in the real world of real estate.....

Beth Jenkins 
  • October 31 2013
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