A recent Opinion handed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court will have a serious impact on Oklahoma’s real estate industry.
On June 30, the Court issued an Opinion in Bowman v. Presley which reversed prior rulings and permitted a lawsuit by the buyers to go forward against both the sellers and the listing REALTORS® in a dispute over square footage.
REALTORS® who listed a house for sale with a stated square footage “per courthouse records” now have to defend, along with the sellers, the square foot amount even though they were just passing information on to buyer, according to a decision in a civil lawsuit brought by the buyers in Pottawatomie County.
To sum it up, Realtors used court house records for square footage source, and MLS records clearly stated that information “was deemed reliable, but did not guarantee its accuracy” – standard disclaimer. Appears that there were several old appraisals floating around with different square footage amounts. With so many different figures, the Court ruled that the issue of the house’s actual size was unclear. Duh!
So, the Court questioned whether the Listing Realtor misrepresented the property size “unreasonably, recklessly or dishonestly.” What? Reckless AND dishonest?
Our state sales contract clearly states that among the MANY inspections the Buyer has the right to conduct is an inspection of square footage. The Buyers signed that contract and did not conduct a square footage inspection during the time allotted in the contract.
I will have to think about how I can re-write this post to HELP my Sellers and Buyers, but for now, it’s a “vent.”
We can only show square footage from courthouse records or an appraisal. I recently listed a home that the Buyer thought the CH records showed a low, inaccurate square footage amount. Simple solution – we paid an appraiser $100 to measure the house. Turns out that the Seller’s actual square footage was LOWER than the CH records reflected, and we had to use the appraisal square footage amount, as that was clearly more accurate.
Now, when I list a house this afternoon, should I ask my Sellers to pay $100 for a proper square footage appraisal? What liability am I assuming using the court house records?
And, my real question to the Buyers who brought about this challenge is, “Did you suddenly dislike the home that you loved enough to purchase when you discovered that it was 700 square feet less than you thought? Did your furniture suddenly not fit or did the bedrooms shrink? You lived in this newly-purchased home HOW LONG before you discovered a square footage discrepancy and decided to take it to court?