A Nightmare to Remember

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Missy Caulk TEAM

Andrew= excellent writerThis post was inspired by Andrew Lenza’s post Playing with House Money Inside the Titanic’s Casino! Receiving an Offer. If you’ve never read Andrew, here on Activerain, you should, he is a fabulous writer.


I was going to comment on Andrew’s post, but realized what I had to comment was too long, so decided to share a situation I had several years ago with some friends, who were past clients.


Let’s say Dick and Jane, moved to Ann Arbor many years ago and I introduced them to a builder who built their new home. After a few years, Dick lost his job and although he was able to get a new one it didn’t pay as much. So they decided to sell their home and rent. The market was good at the time. They were going to rent, get back on their feet, and pay off credit cards. 

I asked them if they were behind in any payments. Their response was no; however when they refinanced, County Wide was suppose to make a payment, did not and now they had one payment that was behind. I told them DO NOT MISS ANYMORE PAYMENTS!

We listed their house and over the listing period, of a month had 3 offers. The last one was going to work, all contingencies were met, so Dick took off the week before they were suppose to move into their rental and got all of their furniture and belongings out of their house into the rental.

The night before closing, I went over to get my sign and lockbox. (Never again... do I do that until after the close) The new buyer was there with one of those rolling carpet measuring sticks. So I went in and said hello to them and their Buyer Agent. I asked if they were replacing the carpet, because the house was only a couple of years old and neutral.

“No, we are just measuring the square footage”. “Our lenders appraiser, came up with a different amount,” they said.

When I left the house, I called Dick and Jane and asked them to please dig up the appraisal amongst their many boxes and bring it to closing as there was a discrepancy in the square footage that Mr. Buyer was concerned about.

When I listed the property, the tax records said 3000 S. F. However, when I went to the house to list the property, Jane told me that was wrong that they had an appraisal saying 3500 Square feet.  (my mistake…I should have asked to see it) However, I did not ask to see it and relied on her information. On my listing contract you can see where I crossed it out and added the additional square feet, per appraisal.

No real damage done, or so I thought as the sellers did have an appraisal that said 3500 S.F. She brought it to my office the next morning, which I faxed over the Buyer Agent for his client to review.

The loan was funded, the house appraised for the selling price...

As we were walking out the door to attend the closing, I received a call from the Buyer Agent saying Mr. Buyer was not going to close unless we came down on the house.... $20,000.00 to reflect the difference in square footage.

 “What? I faxed you the appraisal?”

 “Yes, but he doesn’t agree”.

So, I called an appraiser I knew and said I would pay him, but could he “please go over quickly to measure this home”? He did and it was also a different square footage, than the tax records and different than the sellers refinance appraisal. Now we have four different measurements:

Which one do you trust?The builder, the tax records, the lenders appraiser and the one I hired to check the measurements.

The buyer still refuses to close unless we come down $20,000.

The funds are sent back to the mortgage company.

To be continued...

(It gets better) 

Posted by


Missy Caulk, Ann Arbor Realtor

Missy Caulk, Broker/Owner of Savvy Realty Group can be reached at 734-926-9797 or email: Missy@MissyCaulk.com

Our Team of 6 agents are available to help you relocate to Ann Arbor, Saline, Dexter, Chelsea, Milan, Ypsilanti Township, Clinton, Manchester, Whitmore Lake, or throughout Washtenaw County, MI.

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Comments (44)

No Longer Active
Real Estate - Fallon, MT
Missy... I know people get hung up on numbers when it comes to square footage but didn't think that would be a basis to allow them to renegotiate the contract terms.  MLS data does have a disclaimer telling prospects the information should be verified.
Jan 28, 2008 02:33 AM
Gail Reeves Reid
Re/Max Realty Specialists - Mississauga, ON
When is the next installment coming? I can hardly wait...once lawyers get involved, anything can happen. LOL
Jan 28, 2008 03:36 AM
Elaine Hanson
Compass - Topanga, CA
REALTOR - Topanga, CA Real Estate Agent
Thank goodness I don't work in a state where I would have to measure!  A lot of homes in our town are listed with 0 (yes that is zero) square feet because we have no way of knowing what was permitted and what was bootlegged.  The measurements are left to the appraisers.  I like reading posts like this because it puts out actual situations we can learn from.  Will be checking to see where this went/is going.  Thanks, Missy.
Jan 28, 2008 03:47 AM
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

Missy, This just doesn't sound good at all. I always go by the public records for sq footage and disclose this in the listing. If the sellers say it is wrong then I measure the house myself. Then I round down.

The thing about this though is the house is the same size it was when the buyers first saw it regardless of what the sq footage is. Nothing has changed. They liked it well enough then to make an offer and should still like it well enough to close. If it appraised then I really don't see an issue.

I agree with Lenn that these buyers could be trouble after the closing if it makes it that far.

And of course the lesson learned is verify, verify and then verify again. 

Jan 28, 2008 05:40 AM
Mana Tulberg
805 County Real Estate - Camarillo, CA
Real Estate Agent - Camarillo CA
Widggy, Are you kidding me? where did you go? come back and finish your story!!!
Jan 28, 2008 06:50 AM
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Missy, I always want something to back me up as far as square footage goes but to be honest I thought an appraisal was good enough.  It sounds like in this case it was not.  Just can't wait to hear what happens once the attorneys get involved.

By the way I have TOTALLY enjoyed Andrew's Blog.  I have been following it for quite some time and he never cease to amaze me with his writing.

Jan 28, 2008 06:57 AM
Monika McGillicuddy
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty - Hampstead, NH
Southern NH & the Seacoast Area
Ouch!!!! I can't wait to hear the rest of the story.
Jan 28, 2008 07:34 AM
Sue Berger
Gladwin, MI
Gladwin MI
Missy ~ Can't wait to hear what happens next.  I agree with Lenn I think the buyers are after your commission next,  definitely sounds like trouble.  Keep us posted.
Jan 28, 2008 08:09 AM
Linda Davis
RE/MAX Home Team - Gales Ferry, CT
I have my popcorn ready as I wait for part 2. I must share this with my office. Square Footage always makes me nervous. In Rhode Island, the MLS solved the problem by not including it in the listing at all.
Jan 28, 2008 10:33 AM
Deb Brooks
Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas - Wichita Falls, TX
Missy, I have been through the very same thing twice. Both times my seller made a concession but that sounds like too much of one. Does your MLS and the site you placed the listing have any disclaimers that could help you? Our MLS states that all information should be independently verified. I think I would sue for Specific Performance...um...depending on the rest of the story. When will we get that? Deb
Jan 28, 2008 02:01 PM
Matt Grohe
RE/MAX Concepts - Des Moines, IA
Serving the metro since 2003
MISSY: On January 2nd we received this communicae from our MLS: Square Footage violations - Square footage should be the same as on the Assessor's card, which shows all above grade square footage. In remarks additional finished square footage can be discussed. If agents disagree with the Assessor's card the agent needs to work it out with the Assessor's office. Basement finished square footage should be reported separately. Builders should not be allowed to dictate how listings are shown in DMAAR MLS. At first it seemed burdensome, but now it seems like..a good way to keep out of trouble!
Jan 28, 2008 02:48 PM
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells


In this business we don't need buns of steel but nerves of steel sure come in handy. I'm looking forward to part II.

Jan 28, 2008 04:09 PM
Thesa Chambers
West + Main - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon
I should have waited to read this till morning - I am going to have nightmares
Jan 28, 2008 05:08 PM
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate
Missy- I can't believe you didn't tell us what happened.............4 different measurements, and a buyer wanting  a 20 thousand dollar discount.....so when is the next part of the story?
Jan 28, 2008 05:29 PM
I think this is a scenario that we have all hoped we'd never be in....can't wait to read what happened!
Jan 28, 2008 10:06 PM
Maria "Antoinette" Scognamiglio, GRI, ASP
Coldwell Banker Realty - Mountain Lakes, NJ
There's no substitute for EXPERIENCE!
I confess Part II brought me to Part I so I know what happens. How could there be FOUR different measurements? Isn't there a universal way to measure so that there's a teeny measure of conformity? No longer am I including sq. ftg. measurements in my listings. I'm sorry this happened to you, Missy.
Jan 28, 2008 10:35 PM
Jay McGillicuddy
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty - Exeter, NH
Real Estate Broker

I feel for you as in one of our local boards many agents will not put sq. footage at all in the required field. They just put zero. 

Those roller wheels can be off, too.

Jan 29, 2008 12:29 AM
Cathy Tishhouse
RE/MAX Showcase Homes - Royal Oak, MI
Royal Oak Real Estate


I have had a few nightmares to remember so thanks for sharing yours so that I can learn from yours as well and not have to make them all myself.  I read this earlier but did not have the time to comment and today I was doing a CMA for a buyer (considering making an offer) and the house she liked seemed suspiciously higher in sq. ft. (over other similar ones and more than public records).  So, now I am going to make sure if we make an offer.

Jan 29, 2008 04:47 PM
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Keller Williams Realty - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Area Real Estate
Okay I should have read all of these prior to making a post on story III, the conclusion....oh my gosh!!
Jan 30, 2008 10:43 PM
Kelly Shoemaker
Coldwell Banker SELECT - Broken Arrow, OK
Realtor Broken Arrow, OK
Missy - I started at Part III but came back to the beginning to get the full story. Going to read Part II now!
Feb 02, 2008 01:45 AM