They say change is constant. Nothing stays the same. We all know this to be true because we can see change happening around us all the time.
But sometimes change is awfully strange.
Take for example, the change that is coming to how we sell real estate in our part of the world. Pretty soon, we will no longer be discussing square footage of properties with potential buyers. In fact, it seems like this information may no longer become available.
The following was included in yesterday's weekly bulletin release from our local MLS Board.
Monday, May 3, 2010
BOARD RECOMMENDS SQUARE FOOTAGE DATA NO LONGER BE USED
Based on a decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the recommendation of NORES Legal Counsel, the NORES Board of Directors approved taking action to begin the process of removing square footage data from all active listings and information available through NORES. The Board also approved taking action to recommend changes in the sales contract and other supplemental forms. The Board intends to request the participation of the other REALTOR® Associations in the State to propose legislative action to address the potential liability for the disclosure of square footage data.
According to the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision, "A buyer of real property may rely upon the positive representations of REALTORS® and sellers about the size of the property to be conveyed." The buyer is not obligated to conduct an investigation to determine the actual square footage if such a representation is made. The Court held that a waiver and release signed by the buyer did not protect the REALTOR® from liability for any detriment suffered by the buyer, or from allegations that the REALTOR® violated the Oklahoma Real Estate License Code by misrepresenting the size of the home.
At this time, the Board recommends you cease providing any square footage data to a buyer, including information available through the MLS. The Board also recommends any advertisements of homes, including online and print media, not include any square footage data.
If you read between the lines here, you can tell that this is a reaction to somebody who sued somebody over a square footage disagreement of some sort. And apparently it went all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Now, because of this Supreme Court ruling, the MLS board is reacting in such a way that is now going to impact the way we do business with our clients.
While I'm not second guessing the board's intent(which I think is to keep the rest of us from getting sued), I am wondering how in the world our society and culture got to this point. Somebody sues somebody because square footage wasn't reported correctly? The only reason this happened was because somebody lied. Or somebody was dishonest and didn't come clean somewhere along the way whenever the problem erupted.
One thing that is true is that you can always work through problems better if you'll tell the truth, put the cards on the table and take responsibility. We all make mistakes and admitting that you screwed up and are willing to fix it can be a good way to produce a good outcome. Don't get me wrong here. I don't wear rose colored glasses. I know that some people are looking for opportunities to sue. But living honestly still makes sleeping at night a whole lot better.
So I guess I'm going to have to develop a script to use whenever someone wants to know the square footage of a property. I hope the day doesn't come when we can no longer tell people if houses actually have windows and doors!
Photo used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/3209939998/