Real Estate Buyers Beware: Look Out for Exaggerated Square Footage

The Oklahoma legislature absolved realtors from liability for inaccurate square footage in the MLS real estate listings in response to the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling in Bowman v. Presley. In Bowman, a home buyer discovered after the sale that the home they purchased was several hundred square feet smaller than the seller and the seller’s agent represented in the listing.

The buyer sued the seller and the seller’s agent for fraud. The Court found the realtor owed a duty to the parties not to make substantial misrepresentations regarding the size of the property and could be held liable for failing to uphold that duty.

Laws Regarding Reporting the Square Footage of Realty

After lobbying efforts from the Oklahoma Association of Realtors, the legislature enacted 59 O.S. §858-515.1, absolving realtors of liability from inaccurate square footage in MLS listings as long as the realtor provides the source of the information. The realtor does not have a duty to verify the square footage and does not warrant the information provided.

What this Means for Home Buyers

The result of this law places the burden of verifying the MLS square footage on the buyer. Unfortunately, the days of relying on the price per square foot, the size of the property, and the representations made by the seller’s and their agents are behind us. The buyer needs to request an appraisal prior to closing that specifically includes a square footage determination.

 

Protect Your Investment with the Help of Prestidge Law Firm

Protect yourself against false square footage by getting an inspection performed that includes property size prior to closing. If you believe that the square footage of your house was misrepresented, contact the team at Prestidge Law Firm for more information. Our experienced team can review your case and help you plan your next step in protecting your real estate investment.