DEAR BOB: In August 2004, I purchased a junior one-bedroom condo, advertised as “approximately 551 square feet.” A week ago, I receive a list of recent sales in my building from the realty agent who sold my unit. It listed the condo like mine three floors above me, which sold at 523 square feet. That is 28 square feet smaller than I was lead to believe. If my math is correct, based on my purchase price I overpaid by $11,180 in square-foot value. Is “approximately” a common wording realty agents use to inflate the square footage and price? Should buyers be responsible for verifying this? The appraisal didn’t evaluate size. What advice do you have on recouping the misrepresented square footage and associated value? –Daniel R.

DEAR DANIEL: Have you measured the square footage of your unit? Maybe the upstairs unit is different. Unless you can prove you paid on the basis of the advertised square footage, such as $200 per square foot, you would have a very weak case to prove misrepresentation.

Most real estate listing information includes “weasel word” disclaimers such as “Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.” You said your condo was advertised as “approximately” 551 square feet, indicating there was no specific representation.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Your chances of finding an attorney to take your case on a contingency are slim. The statute of limitations is another issue. I suggest you forget the matter and spend your time on something important.


DEAR BOB: Last year I took out a mortgage to help my son purchase a house. The house is titled in my name. How can I re-title the house to him so he can benefit from the mortgage interest and property tax deductions since he makes all the payments? –Jesse H.

DEAR JESSE: That’s easy. Just sign and record a quitclaim deed transferring title from you to him. Then he can deduct the mortgage interest and property tax he pays. Your name will then be off the title. However, your name will remain on the mortgage obligation so be sure your son pays the mortgage on time or your credit will be harmed.


DEAR BOB: I hired a licensed, insured contractor to do some renovation work on my property several years ago. We agreed he would obtain all the required permits, do the work, and have the work passed by the building inspector. The work was completed and paid in full. But I am not sure the permits and inspections were obtained. The contractor is now out of business. Will this renovation work affect the sale of my property in the future? What should I do? –Gregg R.

DEAR GREGG: Pay a visit to city hall to see what building permits have been obtained on your property. You don’t have to tell the clerk what you really want to know.

Most building departments maintain records by the property address. The file will include copies of all building permits issued for your property, plus copies of all completed inspections.

If you discover either a building permit was not obtained or the work was not inspected upon completion, when you sell the property you must disclose those facts to your buyer. The result might be a diminished market value for the property. Or the buyer might not care.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “Everything You Need to Know About the Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages for Senior Citizens,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, Calif., 94010, or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at Questions for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

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