Sunday, June 24, 2007
ATTENTION HOME SELLERS - Don't get sued because of bedroom misrepresentation!
According to errors and ommission insurance for Massachusetts Realtors, one of the areas that has drawn the most recent litigation is the misrepresentation of bedrooms when the home is serviced by a septic system.
Septic systems are rated according their bedroom capacity. When someone says the septic system is "rated" for four bedrooms it means that the system will handle the waste generated by four bedrooms.
Where sellers and Realtors get into to trouble is when there are rooms in a home that are counted and marketed as bedrooms when in fact they are not. As an example, you could have a home that has three bedrooms on the 2nd floor and another room on the 1st floor that is called a "bedroom". It may have a closet and a window large enough for a person to fit through - both requirements of being a bedroom.
The problem, however, is that if this home has a septic system that is rated for only three bedrooms, it is not a four bedroom home and should not be marketed as such.
The misrepresentation occurs when the seller or realtor represents this room to be a bedroom through various marketing channels such as the multiple listing service(MLS). The buyer then relies on this information, only to later find out through town hall or other means that in fact it is not a four bedroom home. There are certainly differences in market value between three and four bedroom homes regardless of the overall size of the house.
Another example would be a home that has had an addition and the room added is called a bedroom but there has been no corresponding "upgrade" to the septic system.
As a realtor, whenever there is any doubt about the bedroom count, records should be verified to determine the correct information. This information can be found at the local board of health. You can also view my in depth article about Massachusetts Title V and home selling by clicking the link.
For more great local real estate information check out my Real Estate website that details how to effectively market your home to the masses online at Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate.