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January 26th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

As I have often stated, I am neither an attorney nor accountant, but I do have a great deal of respect for both professions. Especially when the professional is answering questions relative to that profession. The other day, while driving to work, listening to talk radio, I heard a caller ask the following question of an attorney that will answer all sorts of legal questions, but he is not a real estate attorney.
Question asked was: We purchased a home some eighteen months ago and we were told that the home was 2,150 square feet. We are now selling our home and find that the home is only 2,000 square feet. Can we sue our real estate agent, the listing real estate agent and seller for the loss?
The attorney said that he thought – in not the same words – they might have a good case. He did say that they should contact a good real estate attorney, and that part of his answer was correct.
There are a couple of problems for this caller, and as a Professional Real Estate witness, I can see where they may not have a case. First, the selling agent, the agent representing these buyers, obtained the information as to the size of the property from the Multiple Listing Service. The Listing Agent (agent representing the original seller) would have pulled a Property Profile from his/her chosen Title Company, and the size of the property would appeared on this report. By the way, the information regarding property size is obtained from County Records.
Just who is to be sued now? Can they sue the county and title company, as well as the two real estate agents and the original seller? Well, there is more to it. When the buyers purchased the property, they obtained a loan. In order to do so the lender would have required an appraisal, and the appraiser measures the property. The buyer is to receive a copy of that report, and at that time they would have seen the correct measurements of the property. If the size of the property shown in the Multiple Listing Service differs from the appraisers figures that would have been the time to ask for an explanation or to even hold off from making the purchase.
It would seem that would have been enough to discourage any litigation against anyone, but there is something else. A home that is 2,000 square feet may have more value then a home 2,150 square feet. The appraiser must do a comparison analysis of like properties within a specific area, normally within a couple of miles of the subject property. So a smaller home that has more features or upgrades could have more value then a home that is larger with nothing done to it for the past number of years. In fact a home in a specific area, just because it is in that area, could be worth more then a like home with like features that is just a few blocks away.
Did this radio attorney make a mistake? I don’t think so, because he did say that the caller should consult with an attorney that specializes in real estate law. But I do feel that he should have asked more questions, and he should have known that the size of the property would be in the appraisers report.
Did I say when the size of a property is reported in the Multiple Listing Service, that size information is always shown as approximate? In my some thirty years of real estate experience, I have yet to meet any real estate agent that will actually measure a property as it is just to risky doing so.
When the real estate market is hurting, it is possible that sellers may think that they were not properly represented, and may be looking at some form of legal action as a way of making a profit.
Today, I received a call from another real estate agent asking if it was necessary to sign a form saying that a property is being sold as a Probate Sale, when in fact it was an estate sale. That, too, is a good question for a real estate attorney. The handling of a Probate Sale property is different than a conventional sale, and does require price approval etc., from the courts. If the property is an estate sale, meaning that an executor has been appointed, it does not require any approval from a judge.
Louis Perlin CRS, GRI is a Syndicated Writer, Author, Professional Real Estate Witness and Mediator. Lou can be reached by calling Marilyn Perlin Realtors, Inc., at (760) 327-8401 or by e-mail: mprltr@aol.com. Lou is available for real estate office meetings. Lou is also available for book signings with 50% of all sales going to charity,

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