top of page

Entry 2310.1 - Square Footage Questions raised by the Buyer.

Query/ Discussion Point: What should an agent working with a buyer do when the buyer raises a question about the reported square footage? When does such a question create a “red flag” situation?

Answer/Comment: Every question raised by a buyer about the reported square footage does not necessarily constitute a “red flag” under the Commission’s Guidelines. Common sense must prevail in these situations.

Example 1: An agent showing a house notes no obvious “red flags” regarding the square footage. The buyer, however, makes the following comment to the agent: “Some of these rooms seem awfully small. Do you think this house really has 2,250 square feet?” Is the agent required to personally verify the square footage?

Answer/Comment: The agent working with the buyer would have no duty under the Real Estate License Law and these Guidelines to verify the reported square footage, even if the agent is a buyer’s agent, unless the buyer can provide some logical reason for suspecting the square footage is incorrect. The buyer’s “gut feeling,” standing alone is not enough to constitute a “red flag.” (If the agent shares the buyer’s “gut feeling,” then maybe the agent should double-check the square footage.) It is very likely that in this situation a buyer’s agent would also have no duty under the common law of agency to personally verify the square footage. The agent should, however, be especially alert for “red flags” whenever a buyer has raised any question about the accuracy of reported square footage. The agent should explore with the buyer why the buyer thinks the reported square footage is incorrect. Most often, the buyer’s concern can be easily resolved without the agent having to measure the entire house and completely recalculate the square footage.

Example 2: A buyer is very interested in making an offer on a listed house and the buyer asks the agent working with him/her to verify the reported square footage. Upon questioning the buyer, it becomes apparent to the agent the buyer has no particular reason for questioning the reported square footage, the buyer says it is very important to them to know the exact square footage, the buyer insists that they would like for the agent to make sure the reported figure is correct. The agent notices no “red flag.” Is the agent required to personally verify the square footage?

Answer/Comment: If the agent is a buyer’s agent, the agent is obligated to personally verify the reported square footage (because the buyer client made this point a material fact of special importance). Agency law duties require an agent to comply with his/her principal’s reasonable instructions and to exercise skill, care, and diligence in serving the principal. Unlike the situation in Example 1, where the buyer casually questioned the square footage and wasn’t that concerned about it, here the buyer clearly expressed major concern about the square footage and emphasized its importance to him/her. However, if the agent is solely a seller’s agent, the agent is NOT legally obligated to honor the buyer’s request and personally verify the square footage (because the agent is not representing the buyer).

Note: As a practical matter, an agent working with a buyer, regardless of his/her agency status, will obviously need to do something to satisfy the concern of the buyer in Example 2 above. Typically, concerns expressed by a buyer about the reported size of a property will focus on a particular room or area rather than the total reported square footage for the entire dwelling. In those situations, the agent working with the buyer should simply measure the room/area in question in order to alleviate the buyer’s concerns. In a vast majority of situations, this will satisfy the buyer and it will not be necessary to measure and calculate the square footage of the entire dwelling. However, it may occasionally be necessary for an agent working with a buyer to verify the square footage just to satisfy the buyer, even if the agent is a seller’s agent and has no legal obligation to do so. One possibility is for the agent to suggest that he/she and the buyer measure the house together.

I teach a (4) hour NCREC approved CE elective course on the Square Footage Guidelines. Visit our class schedule and register today.

The above does not constitute Legal Advice. Therefore, find a competent attorney for legal advice.


bottom of page