Home Buying in 94533>Question Details

James, Home Buyer in Fairfield, CA

Does a buyer have any options when a home is priced too high and square footage is off?

Asked by James, Fairfield, CA Mon Apr 1, 2013

A home has come up for sale in my neighborhood because the residents passed away and their daughter inherited it. She does not live in the area and has an initial listing price twice what recent comparable sales have been. Also, they are listing the home at 2000 SF when I believe that it is really a 1300 SF home with a 400 SF garage and a 300 SF workshop (both detached from the home). I have not been able to get in to see inside yet, but if I believe that they are misrepresenting the home, what can I do about it (other than walk away)?

Help the community by answering this question:


There Manufacturer's Sticker, like on a Car or a refrigerator:
The House is worth what the Seller thinks it's worth, and what the Buyer is willing to pay.
If the Seller has a ridiculous inflated value, maybe all you can do is walk away.
You could have your Realtor include a CMA with the OFFER, to show her the error.
Also, your Realtor could print out the Tax Record which shows the sqft.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
Even though representing the square footage is critical to proper disclosure, that doesn't solve your price problem. Depending where in Fairfield the home is located, you're going to see a lot of escalation this spring. I live in Cordelia (west of 680), where 7 of the 9 homes that closed escrow in March sold above the listing price. All you can do is get in to see it, check former MLS and county records to see what the square footage might be, and make the best offer you can. Or, as you say, walk away...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
You can approach them about buying the property, then if you can agree on a price, do your investigations and go from there. If they are asking more for the house than you think it's worth, negotiate or buy another house.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
A purchase is usually negotiable between seller and buyer. What is they buyer willing to pay and what is the seller willing to sell for? A tax record will usually show the sq ft, however, if seller has added additional sq ft, it isn't always showing on the tax record. A buyer should check the county records to find out what the actual sq ft is.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
In my area we not only list the square footage, but the source of the number. If it is provided by the owner it may not as reliable as if it is from the county assessor office.

If I was you I would call the listing agent up and nicely mention your concerns. They might explain why the numbers are different from the 1300 sq ft. I can tell the difference between a 1300 sq ft home and a 2000 sq ft home, but some agent might not notice the difference. Once a buyer finds out that the home has been misrepresented, they don't want to deal with the seller or the listing agent...and the deal can go down hill real quickly. So if I was this listing agent, I would welcome your call. Because, I always strive to get all my information about the home right.

The buyer should have time after the purchase agreement is accepted, to do their due deligence to investigate the property. That includes reviewing the county assesors or recorder"s offices records to verified the square footage for living area plus garage and patio and workshop that has been permitted. Further, the appraiser will usually meassure the home to vertify the actual square footage of the property. And yes the permitted square footage does sometimes differ from the actual square footage for many reasons.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 3, 2013
Great idea! Tape measurers work. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 3, 2013
Thanks for the advice everyone! I will make an appt to see it and bring my tape measure to draw out the floor plan and calculate square footage. I used to work as an appraiser in San Jose, so I have a pretty good idea of what can and cannot be counted as living area. Then all I can do is make an offer. I like the idea of submitting a CMA with it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
Hi James,

Curiosity got the better of me and I started looking at listings in the MLS that might be around 2,000 square feet. Lo and behold I found a house that was builtin the 30's-40's with about the square footage you mention. I have lived in Fairfield for 52 years and I know that they did not build homes that big back then. I also noticed that the agent that listed it indicated the size of the home is based on what the owner said, not the tax records. In addition, the home is zoned residential and commercial, resulting in the higher price.

Hope this helps.

Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Steve Goldberg, MBA, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
I forgot to say I know for sure it does not comply with the city's Disabled Access Laws too so any business would have it's work cut out to make it comply...
Flag Mon Apr 1, 2013
Steve, I think you have the right one. The thing is, all the homes downtown can be residential and/or commercial and the closed comps that an appraiser friend ran for me all come in about $165,000, so I don't think the commercial aspect is really going to bring a business in to spend that much. It's not really in a great location for a business...surrounded by empty lots and not on a street with access to and from highway 12 so I don't see it getting much foot or driveby traffic. Thanks for looking into it for me. I will make an offer and see what happens.
Flag Mon Apr 1, 2013
Whats the address / mls #
Flag Mon Apr 1, 2013

Make an offer for what you think it's worth.

Have a Realtor do a CMA on the property to determine its approximate value. The Realtor can get in, and you should, too. It's likely the house hasn't been updated in 30 years--that'd be typical for a home like that.

Anyhow, the Realtor does a CMA. It should take into account the condition of the house, but feel free to adjust it based on your impressions. So let's say it's listed at $400,000. Your Realtor says, based on comps, its real value is closer to $225,000. You make an offer at around $225,000; your Realtor can help you with that strategy.

In your offer, you could (though it's not required) provide some justification for your "low" offer.

But it's certainly not worth paying more than it's worth. If you're financing it, it won't appraise for that higher amount. And even if you paid cash, would you want to overpay for something like that?

So: Determine what it's really worth. Then make an offer based on that number. If it's rejected, you can either wait and resubmit the offer or just walk away.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA

In our area, every home gets looked at, we have a 20 to 1 buyer to seller ratio, just to get your offer accepted takes a lot of work.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
Forgive my response, but why does this overpriced and undersized home capture your attention?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
Hi James,

The square footage of the garage and the workshop are not considered living space and are not included in the square footage. The daughter that inherited it may think it is, which is why it is reflected in the listing. On the other hand, if improvements were done with permits then the square footage could be accurate.

Provide me some information and I can investigate this for you.

You can e-mail me at info@SteveGoldberg.us

Steve Goldberg, MBA, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
This is a very good question. I am happy to assist and research the home, the listing and clarify this issue more. You can reach me at 707.495.0774 or donmcdonald@remax.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
Email me the address, I can look this up for you.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
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