I made an offer to a house with 1914 heated area, when i measured with my contractor, total area comes to 1550. How can it be?

Asked by Rama, Atlanta, GA Tue Nov 29, 2011

This house as been sold twice at 1914 sqft, and is now a REO property. I checked county website, and sale deed, everything says 1914.

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Jeff Smith’s answer
Jeff Smith, Agent, Poway, CA
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Hi Rama -

You have some good answers here already, so take it all in and assess your situation. There are different ways to measure a structure and even professionals will come up with different figures in measuring the same home. Although, they usually do not vary by over 300 sf on a house of this size? Go to the appraisal and see what that states, county records here in CA can be wrong. Always go back to your agent and see what he/she suggests and you may want to double check your comps and see if this is still a good deal if the final square footage is only 1550.
Good luck,

Jeff Smith | Realtor® | Your Best Choice!
HÔM Sotheby’s International Realty
16909 Avenida De Acacias | Rancho Santa Fe | CA | 92067
858.367.4333 direct | 858.756.1150 office | 858.756.1171 fax
Jeff.Smith@SothebysRealty.com
DRE #01056750
1 vote
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
BEST ANSWER
Hi Rama,

Did you look at the drawing on the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's website? It should be aparent where the error occurred. I have a listing right now that the appraiser's office assumed had a 1 story formal living room so it added about 400 extra sq ft.

If you are still within your inspection period you should be able to cancel if the property is no longer a bargain at the price you offered.

On a bank owned listing, they will not likely negotiate with you and may not even up date the sq feet because the listing probably states that the sq ft was from "tax records". They will not likely care what measurements your contractor made and will simply re-list it with the same wording on the MLS that specifically states that although the info is deemed reliable the buyer need to do their own due diligence.

Good luck~

All the best,
Alma
http://www.SoldOnTampa.com
0 votes
Caroline York, Agent, St Petersburg, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
It can be very easily. Many people take the tax records as gospl. Changes in the structure are often not reported and the information remains on the books. The best way to have this corrected would be with the tax collector. Does this affect the taxes? Did the appraiser use the 1914 sft or the 1550 sft for the lender? I wouldn't be questioning How it can be but rather How and in what ways does the discrepancy affect the buyer.
1 vote
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Must be the bank.
They made a whole room disappear!

Recently encountered a discrepancy associated with a property that had a detached building. Structure was removed and slab used as patio. Yep, total square feet included this poured slab.

Several buyers preceding you concluded the SF discrepancy did not make a material difference to them. Now you will need to make the decision best for you. Does this change the material value significantly for you? If yes, negotiate! Banks do negotiate.
1 vote
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Oh and as far as arriving at a value on a BPO or appraisal... it's completely incorrect to base it on square feet times the typical price/sq ft for neighborhood. Comparable properties are adjusted in more ways than just the sq feet. Also in the same neighborhood generally speaking larger homes (especially less expensive to build two stories) usually sell for a much lower price/sq ft. The other factors are condition, upgrades, # of bathrooms, garage size, site size, location ( pond, etc.). It would be oversimplified and incorrect to base a value merely on a price per sq foot. I see many inexperienced investors/Realtors value a property using this method but the standard BPO forms used by most lenders will use a comparative sales approach. The highly qualified licensed appraiser also doesn't arrive at value by using price/sq ft.
1 vote
Rama, Home Buyer, Atlanta, GA
Tue Nov 29, 2011
I have to pay my deposit tommorrow. I made signed offer with weichert. I have to pay deposit after 3 days of written acceptance
1 vote
Antonio Vega…, Agent, Saint Cloud, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Because it seems to be around 400 sqft diference they are probably counting the garage as heated space. @ car garages usually measure 20x20 or 400sqft.

Tony Vega
Charles Rutenberg Realty
1 vote
FSBOsuccess, Home Seller, 28590
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Cheryl is right. This happened to my brand new home after the assessor came out to assess it the first time upon completion. I received the bill and saw that, according to the tax assessor, my home's value had increase by $40,000! In this market, I don't think so. I appealed the assessment and sent in the HUD and appraisal report from 4 weeks prior to his assessment. He called me and thought everybody was wrong except him. Turns out he had measured wrong by 700 square feet! Claimed "first time this has ever happened with me." I believed that like I could sell you the Brooklyn Bridge!!
1 vote
Cheryl Bailey, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
The county assessor can be wrong, in fact they probably are wrong.

My question to you is when did you learn you had a square footage problem? Was it before you made the offer or after you made the offer?

When you previewed the home with your real estate agent did you bring along your contractor? This would have been a great time to measure, and your real estate agent could help hold the measuring tape while you measure the square footage.

Also, like the previous responder Aaron Weber said there is nothing you can do, unless you want to lose your deposit and walk away.

There is a phrase, "Caveat Emptor" which means buyer beware. This is a warning to any buyer of anything to check facts, and to make sure that what they are purchasing is what they are expecting.

Wish you the best.
1 vote
Steve Vinson, , Florida
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Get 4 people to measure the same house, you'll get 4 different numbers. Is a garage included in the 1914, or is some other space included? But if all is equal, chances are the plans submitted called for a 1914 house but the builder shorted it. So much for planning and zoning doing their job correctly.
1 vote
Steve Vinson, , Florida
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Rama apparently you're not to sure on this purchase any longer due to square footage discrepancy. Florida contract law states:

Lack of Mutual Assent
When both parties to a contract are mistaken about a fundamental element in the agreement and the mistake creates a considerable imbalance in the exchange, the contract is voidable by the party adversely affected. For example, a person makes a contract to purchase a car for $600; later, however, both the buyer and the seller discover that the car was once owned by Elvis Presley, presumably increasing the market value of the car. A court would probably permit the seller to void this contract due to an absence of mutual assent. However, where only one party to the contract makes a mistake, courts will enforce the contract, unless the non-mistaken party had reason to know of the mistaken party's misunderstanding. Courts will not permit the non-mistaken party to take advantage of the mistaken party using deception or artifice.

I f no cash has changed hands, why would you give them cash now? But for your benefit we rely on 3 different AVM's (Automated Valuation Models) to arrive at a price. We use BPO's for inspection and verification purposes. But if all are using the same information which they typically do, you will end up with erroneous numbers. Which in this case appears highley likely. Also understand, prior to financing an appraisal will be conducted which you will pay for, only to confirm that the property will not appraise for the price you are paying for it, thereby negating the subject to finance clause, if any on the contract. Have the bank re-run the AVM's based on the verified sqaure footage and the price will drop.
0 votes
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
@ Realtor Brian... as you mentioned the house was on the market for 4 months... at that point then yes it may be negotiable. If it's a newly listed property that went under contract within 2 weeks then probably not possible to renegotiate.
0 votes
Brian Rayl, Agent, Dallas, TX
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Not sure why people here say that banks will not negotiate this, because they will and I have had it done.

Most banks price their properties based on a BPO, or Broker Price Opinion. These BPOs typically figure out the ideal price per square foot for the home and multiply that by the square footage listed. If the square footage is indeed wrong, they MAY negotiate the price based on that, especially if the home has been on the market for a while. I found a home for a buyer that was nearly 500 square feet off from the tax records when we had the inspection done. It had been on the market for nearly 4 months, so we sent in a copy of the inspection report with the actual measurements and square footage and offered to pay the same price per square foot on the lowered square footage. After some negotiations, we agreed on a reduced price for the home.

It depends how badly you want the home, how much you like the location of the home, and does that 400 square feet really matter that much? Would you really have known it was that much smaller if you didn't actually have a measuring tape?

Good luck
0 votes
Steven Pahl, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
The standard Florida Sales contract has an inspection period during which time you can cancel the contract. Your Realtor should be able to advise you on how this applies in your situation. I would not recommend paying the deposit until the question of square footage is cleared up. Good luck!
0 votes
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Hi Rama,

It sounds like you elected NOT to have your own Realtor to represent your best interests.

Contact your Realtor (even if it's merely the listing agent that is probably working for the best interests of the bank they are working for!) asap if you decide to cancel your contract.

Again it's highly unlikely they will adjust the sale price but will merely put the property back on the market.

You are most likely in a take it or cancel situation...

All the best,
Alma
0 votes
Lisa Reeves, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
When the property appraiser measures the property they do this from the outside. They take into consideration the visual size of the extra features like a open porch and a garage. However they do not know the interior details of the home. Whether there are walls, how thick they are, closets or stairwells. All of these can take away from what you measured which is the usable square footage on the inside. Have your contractor measure the exterior of the home and you should find it to match public record's heated square footage.
0 votes
Tracy Truitt, Agent, Tampa, FL
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Hi Rama. Sqft can be measured from exterior walls which is done by the property appraisers office or tax assessor upon being built. Sometimes they miss what's heated and what's not heated, and also if it's a block home, the interior measurements will be less due to the width of the block but not by this amt. Sometimes people enclose areas that were once under a/c and now they aren't under a/c. The appraisers should have caught this in recent sales. Hope this helps. I agree that this is a major discrepancy. Best wishes, Tracy
0 votes
Aaron Weber…, Agent, Middleton, WI
Tue Nov 29, 2011
Typically the total sq ft comes from the assessors office. And sometimes they are not the best at measuring.

On most MLS sheet and listing info it will state "Square Footage taken from Intax, measurements are approximate" or "Total sq.ft. est., buyer to verify if important" are some examples.

After the fact there is not much you can do.

Hope this helps
0 votes
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