Home Buying in Los Alamitos>Question Details

Ivy Au, Home Buyer in Los Alamitos, CA

actual size of the house is 200 square feet less than what stayed on MLS

Asked by Ivy Au, Los Alamitos, CA Sat Jun 2, 2012

I am in the middle of an escrow and find out the actual square footage is 200 square feet less. This is a short sale house, is there anything I can do.

Help the community by answering this question:



Verifying square footage is one of the task buyers and their agents should do.

The info entered on the MLS is based on what the seller tell s the listing agent, someytimes info is entered incorrectly in error, or maybe the seller was simply misinformed,and passed bad info on to the listing agent..

You had 17 days after acceptance to complete all your investigations of the property. If you are beyond the 17th day mark, you are in a bit of a pickle. If you decide to cancel due to the sq footage not being what you thought, you more than likely will loose your deposit. The contarct is real clear on time frames for buyers to conduct investigations of the property.

You could ask the seller to accept a lower sales price based on the difference in sq footage, but that would soley up to the seller to agree to or not.

Do you like the home? Is it in a good area and priced within a range you can manage? Is the sq footage issue a deal breaker for you?

These are the questions you must answer before you take any action.

Best of Luck to You.

Kawain Payne, Realtor
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 19, 2012
It depends on if you have passed your 17 days to remove all contingencies. I would guess when you did your appraisal that is how you found out the home was 200 square feet less. If your still getting a great deal you may be ok with it. If you have not removed all contingencies and you want to back out then you would have to discuss with your Realtor to see if you could still cancel. You could also negotiate with the bank on maybe getting a better price since it is 200 square feet less and if you still want the house. I hope this helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 1, 2012
Good morning Ivy,
Since the listing agent is representing the seller and also you, you must hold the transaction, clear any doubts, renegotiate the price. Real estate is an imperfect industry ( as a buyer you have control of the transaction unless you want to buy that property regardless of price, location, size etc {that's why is imperfect}).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 3, 2012
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012
As Realtors we are not appraisers. We only have what information is given to use through our own diligence. Sometimes that information is from the seller and/or county records. It's not a perfect system. A good reliable appraiser is your only best form of getting information on property value and actual size of the home or building. And I have seen where the appraiser has come up with incorrect information. So, as I said, it's not a perfect system.
Your best bet is to go back to your Realtor and have them renegotiate the purchase price based on recent findings.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012

Most agents rely on the local tax records for this information. This documented resource is the most accurate source of information. It however, is not without its flaws. It's fairly common for people to identify variations between this information and what actually exists.

Square footage of the home, number of rooms, number of bathrooms etc. can vary for a number of reasons, with the greatest source being non-permitted additions.

In your case, since the number of square feet is smaller, one could speculate that perhaps a section of the structure was removed. As a short sale either the present owners or one of the agents involved in your transaction should be able to do a little "digging" to uncover the answer to this mystery.

You are correct in feeling that a 200 feet variation should not be overlooked. Insist on answers.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012
I live in Los Alamitos (Rossmoor), reporting square footage in the MLS comes with a bit of anarchy & it's not necessarily the Listing Agent's fault. Normally the 1st reported square footage is to go off of the public tax record. If that figure is obviously 'off', the 2nd option as the MLS rules allow is to state the square footage as being an owner "estimate" (which doing it this way is usually overstated). If the listing agent is from outside of the area & has not done much research, then it is possible for him or her to be way off (1630 vs. 1420)

If you'd like to give me the property address I may be able to tell you by looking at the house which model it is. Normally I'd say to go by what the appraiser says because they just measured it & it's the most current figures. But, it wouldn't hurt to get a 2nd opinion on measurement either.

The way you've worded your question & your comment, it sounds like the lien holder has given short sale approval & that what your contract price is with the lien holder is $80K less than fair market value according to the appraiser? IF all that is true, I don't know why you'd be upset & state you'd never go through a listing agent again?

It sounds like the listing agent got you a good deal, even with the size being 200sqft off.

Shoot me an email directly if you'd like to talk to me some more. I don't look back on this same Trulia thread for answers posted after mine.

562-430-3053 c
Realtor Since 1996
Main Street Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012
Ivy, if you have not removed your contingencies, you should talk to your agent and discuss alternatives. I strongly suggest you have the agent's Broker attend that meeting "in person". Remember the agent's primary responsibility is to the Seller - not you. The Broker ultimately represents both sides and will be the stable voice in this situation.

If you liked the house enough to place a deposit, and the value has been appraised significantly higher than what you are paying, what is the true reason you want to cancel?

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012
Thanks so much for all the answer. It is very helpful. May I ask a few more questions,

1) I have already sent the earnest money, can I get my money back if I backout

2) Based on the city permit, it shown a total of 1516 square foot, the MLS listing is 1640 square foot, the appraiser shown 1420 square foot. It is so confusing, I do not which one should I go by.

Good thing is the appraiser appraised $80K more than I paid.

3) I am using the listing agent as my agent. (yikes, never again)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012
Sometimes the listing will state "buyer to verify square footage" and that is usually an indicator that it may be incorrect as stated in the listing. As long as it appraises I wouldn't be overly concerned, and like Skip advised, you found out in time to rectify the situation and still have options. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012
Skip is correct - additionally, you should have a discussion with your Realtor and he/she shoudl chat with the Listing Agent about how they derived the GLA (Gross Living Area) shown in the MLS. On the MLS sheet to the right of the GLA it shoud indicate where that came from - for example; Assessor, Builder, Seller, Estimated, etc.

Again, talk to your agent (hopefully you did not use the listing agent to represent you)

Good luck !
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012
Well the good news is you found out before closing. In my opinion you have 3 options. 1. Proceed with the purchase. Hopefully the property will appraise at the sales price. 2. Cancel the contract and find another property. 3. Try and renegotiate the price. Keep in mind that this may start the short slae process over again.
Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 2, 2012
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