This past week I encountered in two different towns, a similar problem with square footage. I was always taught to only list that square footage which was reflected at the Assessor’s office, and that which the home owner was being assessed on, and paying taxes on (heated, livable space). Therefore, since that was the ‘taxable’ square footage, that was the number I had to list in my listing on the Multiple Listing Service… Over the years, some home-owners have asked that I list the square footage their appraiser had found… and my manager would always reply ‘not to’, and to stay within the confines and dictates of the Assessor’s office. SO I did.
In recent years, there have been reported lawsuits when an agent over stated the square footage by 25%, and I know that I have lost listings when I would not overly state the square footage….I even heard of a lawsuit when a home-owner sued the agent because the square footage was understated and the new buyer claimed he was paying more in heating than he had anticipated… but perhaps that was just an urban legend!
Now, fast forward to 2012, and I showed a home last week that reflected 600 more square feet than what was noted at the Town Assessor’s office. The listing agent informed me (an old-time agent) that her client wanted the home to be presented in its best light, and wanted the square footage to reflect the appraisal.. and so she is stating that to everyone…. Okay…. Now, here is where it gets tricky as Larchmont is going to re access every home and have an updated, correct market assessment for all. This will mean that those homes that were under assessed will have their taxes raised, and those homes that were over-assessed will still have their taxes raised (just kidding..)…So, theoretically, this listing agent might be doing more harm than good for her client.. for if a buyer is informed that the correct square footage is some 600 square feet more… then what will be with the new tax assessment? In this case, the agent was being cute… With the square footage some 600 square feet more, the price per square footage, and estimate sales price is some $250,000 more than if it were listed at the lesser square footage… trying to subliminally inform the buyer of a higher value..
I ran into another home in a different town where the Assessor’s office does not include the basement, be it legal or not…. The agents had listed the house some 2000 sq. ft. more than what was reflected at the Assessor’s office, stating that it was all legal…. but so much additional square feet…As a buyer’s agent, all I could do was to inform my client what was reflected where, and to base our bid – if he wanted to proceed with a bid, on the legal square feet, (which came to 1400 square feet less than listed) and go from there.. I, of course ,would do my best to (subliminally) impress upon the agent that my bid would be based on that square footage noted legally not wanting any repercussions down the line for both she and myself… (smile!).
What have your experiences been?