Question Details

Joe, Home Buyer in northern california

Is it illegal or just unethical to list property with items it does not have. ie garage, central heat & air.

Asked by Joe, northern california Tue Jan 1, 2008

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Hi Joe. I think the answer to your question would depend on whether the conduct is intentional or just inadvertent or negligent. It's difficult to believe an agent would intentionally advertise a house as having a garage if it does not have a garage, but clerical errors can happen (e.g., an assistant who has not seen the house enters the listing in the MLS as having a garage). I believe it is the listing agent's duty to check the listing detail and advertisement for accuracy and have the necessary corrections made swiftly to avoid misrepresentations. If an agent does not exercise due diligence, it may cost the agent. I have heard of agents pay money to the buyer to make up for incorrect listing details. In most of those cases, this is done to avoid a costly legal dispute. It's just easier to pay than let the court or arbitrator decide. Whether an agent was negligent in fulfilling his/her duties has to be decided on a case by case basis and I think one also should take into consideration how obvious the mistake was (e.g., a buyer can easily determine if a house has a garage and it's unlikely that an agent would have to pay for a garage being built).
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2008
Ute Ferdig -…, Real Estate Pro in New Castle, DE
YES! It's called false advertising. The DRE has strict guidelines on advertising. False or misleading advertising can result in administrative, civil and/or criminal penalties. See for more information.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2008
Yes, it is so misleading. Sometimes these false descriptions lure someone in, but the seller/agent is better off listing the truth so that people aren't expecting one thing and seeing another. Even though they are leading more features, I see it as a detriment to their whole selling strategy, as buyers will leave their home disgusted with the lies.

We went to see a single family home where they converted the garage into a craft room. On the listing, it was a 2-car garage, but in actuality, it was only 3 ft deep of storage space when you open the garage door. Plus, they counted the square footage of the "craft room" (which was not connected to the central heating or AC) as part for the sq ft of living space. Plus, they counted the "craft room" as the 4th bedroom. Imagine my horror when we saw this otherwise nice house! I left that house with a sick feeling in my stomach. What liars!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 4, 2008
Unless it is under construction or rehabilitation and will have those items built and installed for the buyer during the escrow period.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2008
Jim Walker, Real Estate Pro in Carmichael, CA
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