So a certain word is very popular in real estate marketing materials, and although you’d think it would protect you, in reality it could land you squarely on the losing side of a lawsuit if your buyers opt to sue. A recent case out in California set the precedent when a judge awarded a buyer the maximum amount he requested (and probably would have received more) when the seller of a certain property used the word “approximate” to describe the size of a condo in a listing. While the seller believed that the use of the word approximate covered his bases when it turned out the condo was 78 square feet smaller than advertised, a small claims court judge did not agree and said that the seller made a quote “material misrepresentation about the property’s square footage” end quote and the seller had to pay the buyer exactly what he demanded, $4,999, for the error. The judge would have fined him more but that is all the buyer asked for, erroneously assuming that was the maximum amount he could demand.
Here are the details so you don’t make a similar error:
A homeowner in Glendale, California, paid cash for a condo in the area when he bought it in 2011. Later that year, he discovered that the condo was not, as he had believed and had been advertised, 1,338 square feet, but rather 1,260 square feet. He had not been aware of the discrepancy earlier because he did not have the condo appraised before he made the purchase (he didn’t have to because he paid cash, but I think you guys can maybe see a bit of a lesson here as well…)
Anyway, later in the year a neighbor trying to finance a condo discovered HIS unit was smaller than advertised and so the plaintiff in the case checked out his own unit and discovered a similar issue. He then took the seller, developer Americana, to small claims court over the issue and received the response that square footage in sales materials had been labeled as “approximate” and there was no issue. The judge in the case, however, sided with the plaintiff, who says now he overpaid more than $30,000 for that extra 78 square feet. He could have gotten right at a third of that from small claims court if he’d realized he could ask for it.
The condo owner told the Los Angeles Times that he’s not so upset about the money he didn’t get in his case as he is glad about his “moral victory,” which he says will protect other consumers from the misleading advertising. Want a list of other potentially problematic words that could hurt your marketing? We’ve got in the REI Today Vault at www.rei.today/vault! Not yet a member? Become one! join right now by texting REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444. When you do, I’ll provide you with fast, immediate access to the report as well as a lot of other timely, insightful, PRACTICAL information that will help make your investing safer, faster, and more profitable.
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REI Nation, thanks for listening in and please always remember this:
Your best investment is your own education.
Carole Ellis is the host of Real Estate Investing Today, a popular 9-minute daily podcast focused on educating real estate investors about the important topics that will make their investing SAFER, FASTER, and MORE PROFITABLE. She's also the editor of the Bryan Ellis Investing Letter. She has more than a decade's worth of experience in and reporting on the real estate industry and, additionally, has written dozens of courses on the topic. Carole lives in Kennesaw with her husband, Bryan, and four children. She believes wholeheartedly that your best investment is always your OWN education.