Sometimes, buyers focus too much attention on square feet – how large a condo is, and how expensive it is, on a per-square foot basis.

Trouble is, those numbers can be misleading. There is no set standard for how square footage is calculated (you would think there is, but there isn’t). You can simply take the exterior dimensions of a building (which will overstate actual liveable space), or go around with a ruler and measure each room. Or, you can go to the public record, and look at the floor plans.

The building’s condominium documents will also tell you this, and, perhaps, even have a floor plan attached.

Usually, it is much easier to get the information, if the building is new construction.

Usually.

Fort Lauderdale real estate professional Rebecca Riley bought what she thought was a 2,618-square-foot condominium last year for $873,000.

But when she moved it, she realized the unit is really only 2,100 square feet. Now she’s suing developers Tarragon South Development Corp. and Omni Development Corp. for $161,170, which equals the difference in price per square foot.

The Web site for the condo development shows the two-bedroom, three-bath unit Riley bought as being 2,618 square feet, excluding the balcony. But the true size of the unit can be found deep within the condominium declaration, a 236-page legal document given to each unit owner.

”When she sells the unit, she’s going to sell a 2,100-square-foot unit, and she’s going to take a bath,” says John Uustal, Riley’s Fort Lauderdale lawyer.

Okay, well, first question is, obviously, how did a “real estate professional” get taken like this? And, is she angry because of the difference in square footage, or because she bought at the height of the market, and is now facing the fact that her property might be worth less than she bought it for (regardless of square footage).

As reported in the article, the square footage was stated clearly in the condo docs. The story says the fact was “buried” in the documents, but, really, it’s a pretty important piece of information, something 1) she 2) her agent and 3) her attorney should have taken a look at. I doubt very much the buyer looked at the website, either, at least until she realized she owned a lemon.

I don’t know if a website’s information can be counted on to be accurate – pretty much everywhere you go, websites say something like, “while expected to be true, the accuracy of statements on this website cannot be guaranteed, and should not be relied upon, please check with the agent and/or developer”, or something like that.

Bottom line, buyer be wary.

Source: Buyer Realizes Condo Is Smaller Than Advertised – By Patrick Danner, The Miami Herald, by way of Realtor.org

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