Homes That Don’t Measure Up (Literally)

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring

And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass

And if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat

(and so on . . .)

–lyrics, “Hush Little Baby”

I can think of 17 reasons (at least!) why exaggerating a home’s square footage is a dumb idea.

If the Buyer doesn’t catch it, their agent likely will (or should).

If neither the Buyer’s agent nor the Buyer catches it, the Buyer’s contractor buddy, Dad, or brother-in-law likely will (sorry, this one implicates males).

The next person to scrutinize the property is the Buyer’s inspector, whose charge — in the course of spending 3-4 hours on the premises — is to verify the home’s structural integrity, and spot material defects (at least visible ones).

Finally, assuming the deal gets that far, the appraiser sent out by the Buyer’s mortgage lender is likely to catch that the home isn’t as billed.


At least according to my sources, it was this last line of defense that torpedoed a recent sale in Edina’s Morningside neighborhood (“listed with the competition,” as they say).

Informed by the appraiser that the house (literally) didn’t measure up, the Buyer walked, and the house subsequently came back on the market.

Where it continues to sit — at least for now, with no change in either the stated square feet or listing price.

My guess:  both are likely to shrink, considerably, before the home ultimately closes.

See also, “The House That Shrank“; “Too Good to Be True“; “Misstating a Home’s Square Feet”; “Exaggerated Square Footage“; and “Home on a Diet.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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