The Edmonton Journal has reported that upwards of three dozen Alberta real estate agents have been fined in the past two years for exaggerating the size of condo units to potential buyers.
While some were small infractions of a few square feet, others involved blatant misrepresentation, including some cases where agents included the parking space as part of the unit’s square footage. Many of these cases push the total size over 1,000 square feet, as many people have that as their minimum, firm threshold. (In other words, units under 1,000 square feet get less views.)
These infractions can be committed without repercussion, as the misrepresentation has to be filed for the agent to be fined. Also, the fines are normally $1,500, so if a dishonest agent does sell a property, they may take the fine as a hit to make the sale.
How do you avoid this happening to you?
It’s an unfortunate reality that a small few agents are not the most honest people. It’s important for you to know this, and learn how and when to trust your real estate agent. Also, it could be the selling agent that’s being shady, while your buying agent is terrific.
If you want to combat this exact problem and know you’re looking at the right square footage, there are a few ways you can be proactive:
Request other listings in the building
Most large condo buildings will have a bunch of units for sale at the same time. Ask to see listings and floor plans for those units as well, to compare square footage. If very similar or exact units have different measurements, you know something is up.
Compare this to past listings of the same unit
Unless this condo is brand new, there will be past listings when it was sold previously. You can then compare those floor plans and listings to the information you’ve been given this time around.
Check out the original floor plan
It’s possible that the floor plan you were given does not have the total square footage on it, or even the measurements of each room. If that’s the case, chances are that an agent has removed those from the image. You can usually access the original floor plan by a company that designs them, and those almost always have measurements and total area.
Don’t forget about the balcony
Balconies are typically included in your total square footage, even if here in Canada, you don’t use much of your balcony in the winter. Keep this space in mind when you’re looking at your total area; you may think you have a lot more space than in reality, if you have a large balcony.
Look out for you / Don’t worry about making the agent upset
If your gut is telling you that something seems fishy, you owe it to yourself to find out. Do your due diligence and disregard any frustration the agent is giving you. Buying a home is a big deal, so do what’s best for you to ensure your purchase is everything you understand it to be.
Flickr: Tony Hisgett