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When Floorplans Go Haywire

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When we have listings and are operating open houses, or touring through buyers, one of the most common questions is:

Do you have a floorplan?

We know why you want it.

And when we're representing a buyer, we like having a floorplan, too.

But most of the time, we do not supply a floorplan with our listings, for reasons we shall illustrate.

One time we made an exception, and it was the worst $15 we've ever spent. (Including that cup of warm spit "beer" purchased at Fenway Park one fine Summer day.)

Our listing was fresh on the market. We had quickly reached an advanced stage with some buyers. They already had an offer in, although it's fair to characterize the offer as more exploratory than deadly serious. (Sorry, but out-of-state buyers can be some of the most bearish and unrealistic of buyers you'll encounter – they often don't know South Bay values or appreciation.)

As we were discussing terms and counter offers, the buyers asked whether we had a floorplan.

We did not. But it's possible, when you have ordered a 3D tour from Matterport (as we had), to have Matterport generate a floorplan for you from their data.

It's just $15, and the people really wanted it, so we ordered the floorplan.

When the floorplan came in 36 hours later, we shared it straight up. And then the trouble began.

The Matterport floorplan came in estimating the home at 200 sqft. smaller than the MLS-listed square footage – square footage drawn from building plans, tax records and all prior sales.

If It's Smaller, We Quit!

The next day, we got back a buyer counter offer that was closer on price, but now said that the whole purchase was contingent on "verification" of the listed square footage of the property by an appraiser. 

So now it was clear: By trying to do a favor by sharing a floorplan, we had created a new problem.

No good deed goes unpunished. 

The seller wasn't eager to wait around to find out what "verification" meant, and with the buyers already low on price, the seller wasn't going to open the door to a renegotiation if an appraiser found the actual square footage to be lower than listed.

Over this #*%&@ floorplan issue, negotiations froze for 3 days.

You won't exactly guess what happened next.

An appraiser came. The measurement showed that the original square footage was accurate!

That's when the buyers should have signed off.

When they did not, the seller's skepticism toward the buyers turned fully to distrust.

Suddenly the ground was fertile for a new buyer. That new buyer emerged, saw the opportunity and dashed in with a better offer – and a better attitude.

The seller signed that offer quickly, leaving the first buyers to reassess where they had gone wrong.

The new buyer closed.

Lessons: Sure, Size Matters, But Play It Right

Now, the lesson here is not to ignore the accuracy of a home's claimed square footage. That can matter.

We shared a story here on the blog almost 3 years ago about one of our buyer clients quitting when a claimed 4000 sqft. house turned out to be 3400. (See "How a Deal Was Killed by Measuring.") That was a case where the sellers' and agents' sloppiness, inaccurate assumptions and willful ignorance of contrary data led them to list an inflated square footage figure. The buyer felt lied to.

In our more recent instance, there was not good reason for anyone to give great credibility to Matterport's floorplan as a source for the square footage. It was close, but it was prone to inaccuracy, because no one ever came in and stretched out a tape measure. Someone in an office far away used data from lasers and cameras to create a facsimile floorplan.

Once the buyers decided that they wanted to verify the square footage, they should not have presented the issue as potential grounds for canceling or renegotiating the deal. Slight inaccuracies in measurements are fairly common, and tolerable. They made it sound like a tripwire. That poisoned the relationship. (We do feel for the agent, whose experience and suggestions were ignored by the hard-driving buyers who chose this approach.)

And y'know, maybe we should never have said "yes" to the idea of getting a floorplan. Maybe it should be office policy: No floorplans, not ever. Or at least we strip out the darned estimated dimensions.

Next time you visit one of the Edge office's listings, go ahead and ask us for a floorplan. 

If you've got a few minutes for a story...


Please see our blog disclaimer.

Listings presented above are supplied via the MLS and are brokered by a variety of agents and firms, not Dave Fratello or Edge Real Estate Agency, unless so stated with the listing. Images and links to properties above lead to a full MLS display of information, including home details, lot size, all photos, and listing broker and agent information and contact information.

Based on information from California Regional Multiple Listing Service, Inc. as of June 12th, 2024 at 9:51pm PDT. This information is for your personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties you may be interested in purchasing. Display of MLS data is usually deemed reliable but is NOT guaranteed accurate by the MLS. Buyers are responsible for verifying the accuracy of all information and should investigate the data themselves or retain appropriate professionals. Information from sources other than the Listing Agent may have been included in the MLS data. Unless otherwise specified in writing, Broker/Agent has not and will not verify any information obtained from other sources. The Broker/Agent providing the information contained herein may or may not have been the Listing and/or Selling Agent.