By Vanessa Saunders – Founder & CEO – Global Property Systems
It’s no secret that the world of real estate, with its picturesque photographs and alluring property descriptions, often hides a minefield of nuances beneath its surface. Take for instance, a listing proudly proclaiming “3 bedrooms – 2 bathrooms. at a GREAT price!” Sounds great on the face of it, right? Yet, scratch a little, and you might find that one of those bathrooms is mysteriously absent from the official property records.
Enter the confident listing agent with a quick retort, “It’s grandfathered in, but don’t fret! The seller is committed to getting everything to ensure the bathroom’s legality and Certificate of Occupancy (CO).” A comforting reassurance, no doubt. But what lies beneath that promise?
“Grandfathered in” often brings with it a plethora of bureaucratic procedures that could spiral into a web of unanticipated costs and delays. For starters, legalizing that additional bathroom might require structural changes, permits, inspections, and more. This means not just time, but also dollars – possibly running into thousands, affecting both the buyer’s and seller’s pockets. And that’s not even factoring in potential increases in property taxes once the upgrade is official.
For the buyer, it gets trickier. They’ve likely dived deep into their savings and shelled out for inspections and appraisals. If they’re banking on a mortgage and the appraisal uncovers the bathroom issue, securing that bank commitment might just become a slippery slope. Fluctuations in mortgage rates due to these delays can affect their budget substantially. Let alone the implications of what happens to their timeline for moving etc.
And this is where the buyer agent’s role comes under the spotlight. In the shadows of the listing description, a note often lurks: “The buyer agent is responsible for verifying all facts.” A convenient shift of responsibility by the listing broker? Perhaps. Shouldn’t the onus lie with the listing agent to ensure complete transparency in the first place?
It raises the question: Who holds these brokers and agents accountable? Ethical practices should never be a gray area in such significant financial transactions. The call for accountability and transparency is louder than ever. As prospective homeowners, arming ourselves with knowledge and ensuring we have trustworthy representatives can shield us from unexpected costs and delays in our journey to find our dream home. Because, in the end, clarity today can prevent costly complications tomorrow.