Incorrect Property Profiles

By
Real Estate Agent with Watts Team Real Estate

Once or twice a week I receive a phone call from an seller that sounds something like this,

 

"Hello Keith, I have a problem.  Your title search (property profile) is showing this house as a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom 900 square foot house.  I've been to the property and it is clearly a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house.  The owner also says that the property is actually 1,200 square feet.  Can you please update your property profile so that it shows the correct information?"

 

The short answer to this question is no, a title company gets its information from the county tax assessor and this error must be corrected at the source, the assessor's office. However, in my experience the profile is not necessarily this agent's problem.  The incorrect profile is only a symptom of a larger issue which may be a problem for your seller.  Here are a couple reasons the assessor may not be showing the correct property characteristics and the potential conflicts with each situation.

 

Illegal Space

Every good agent wants to avoid dealing with the legality of space.  There is too much liability and the more you know the more you need to disclose.  Unfortunately when your interview with the seller uncovers a different description of the property than the assessor's description these inconsistencies must be addressed. 

In most cases the city approves building plans, issues permits, and certificates of occupancy once an addition is completed.  The city is responsible for making sure space is legal and safe.  Once these permits are issued and plan checks are complete the city generally sends the finals to the county for re-assessment.  It is at this time that the records will be updated to show the new property characteristics.  If the space is unpermited or illegal the county will never be notified of these changes and a title companies profile will be wrong. 

Consult your broker about the problems associated with selling unpermitted square footage. 

Lazy Assessor

Sometimes property has space that is permitted, and legal but the assessor still reports the original property type and square feet.  I call this the "lazy assessor".  I'm sure they would disagree with my description but since they can't give me a good reason for it's occurrence I'll stick with my description.  In this case a homeowner takes all the necessary steps in order to build on their home.  The space is legal, the city has approved everything, and the finals were sent to the county.  For some reason the assessor doesn't update their records.  I've been asked by agents if they should call the assessor so that they can be notified about their mistake.  I don't recommend advising a homeowner to take this course of action as it may lead to a reassessment, back taxes, and an upset customer. 

 

It is my experience that agents want the profile changed because it is affecting their comparables.  Just remember that you may ask customer service to change their property features in order to find you sufficient sales on any property, permitted or otherwise.  

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Rainmaker
337,735
Thesa Chambers
Fred Real Estate Group - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon
Oh I know what you are saying here!  We all I am sure have had this - thank you for standing on the right side of the line... good for you!
Mar 31, 2007 08:16 AM #1
Rainer
188,704
Laurie Manny
Long Beach CA Real Estate - Long Beach, CA

Keith,

I went on a listing appointment last week, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath home (1 1/2 actually).  Seller insists it is a 4 bedroom 2 bath house.  Turning a porch and a lean too in the back of a house into 2 bedrroms does not constitute 4 bedrooms and an additional $100,000 in listing price. Some idiot agent will take this listing, won't sell it, but they will spin their wheels instead of me.   No way the city would ever approve these rooms.  

Apr 01, 2007 04:45 PM #2
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Rainer
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Keith Watts

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