In the complex world of real estate transactions, one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is the accuracy of property measurements. Recent news stories have highlighted the significant impact of misrepresented square footage on homeowners.

The Square Footage Misrepresentation

Pam Whelan’s story serves as a cautionary tale for anyone navigating the real estate market. When she purchased her Calgary home in 2007, she believed she was getting a property with 2,500 square feet of living space. However, when she decided to sell her home five years later, she was in for a shock. The listing realtor had altered the square footage, increasing it by 25 percent to 2,580 square feet, leaving Whelan with a significant discrepancy in property value.

The Legal Battle

Whelan’s ordeal led her to file a complaint with the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA). Their investigation found that the square footage was indeed misrepresented, but they couldn’t establish it was done intentionally. The realtor responsible for the misrepresentation received only an advisory note, which did little to address Whelan’s financial losses.

Protecting Yourself in the Real Estate Market

Given the disparities in measurement standards across Canada and the potential financial consequences of inaccurate property information, it’s essential for buyers to take proactive steps to protect themselves.

  1. Document Everything

Vancouver real estate lawyer Ron Usher advises buyers to document their expectations. Writing down the square footage you’re looking for and emailing it to your realtor can help establish your requirements clearly.

  1. Revise Fine Print

Usher also recommends crossing out the fine print in real estate contracts and specifying your expectations. By eliminating qualifiers, you can make sure the representation is precise.

  1. Professional Measurement

Consider hiring a professional measuring company, especially in major cities where these services are readily available. These experts can provide more accurate measurements and ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

The Need for National Standards

The lack of uniform measurement standards across Canada is a significant contributor to these disputes. Different provinces have varying guidelines for measuring property, leading to discrepancies and confusion for buyers. While there are efforts to develop national measurement standards for commercial buildings, no such plans exist for residential properties.

The Role of Lawyers in Real Estate

Given the complexity of real estate transactions and the potential for disputes, having the right lawyer by your side becomes crucial. Lawyers can guide you through the legal intricacies of real estate, protect your interests, and ensure that you have a strong case in situations like Whelan’s, where she felt let down by the system.

In the world of real estate, the accuracy of property measurements is paramount. Pam Whelan’s experience serves as a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls that buyers may encounter. To protect yourself and your investment, it’s essential to document your expectations, revise fine print, and consider professional measurement services. Additionally, having the right lawyer in your corner can make a world of difference in navigating the complexities of real estate transactions and seeking justice when issues arise.