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Jae_Jay
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎06-30-2011
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Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?

Okay. I'm looking at a darling little bungalow in Hermosa Beach. And by 'little,' I mean absolutely tiny -- 620 square feet, according to Redfin. And this little place has an undeniable charm, but there are a couple of odd things about it, apart from the $799,000 price tag (imagine astonished emoticon here -- MB prices in HB? Say it ain't so!). Anyway.

 

First, the owner appears to be using the tiny outside terrace as a kind of weird little dining room -- it looks like he/she hemmed up some sheets and hung them around the patio, then dragged some furniture, including a wrought iron bar table and stools outside. That just struck me as a little odd.

 

The second odd thing is that the redfin description mentions beach access twice, saying it is "only steps from the beach" at one point. Well that is simply not true. This cottage is three blocks from the beach, and you have to cross two major thoroughfares (Manhattan and Hermosa Avenues) to even reach it. Yet the $1300 PPSF also makes it seem as though it is so close to the ocean that the waves would rock you to sleep at night.

 

Third, the layout of the home is awful, for all its charm. The one bathroom is accessible only by going through the bedroom (from what I could see), and anyone who is much larger than a child is going to have problems navigating the very narrow space between the bathroom counter and the closet doors. But still, no harm, no foul, right? People exaggerate, it's an old cottage, you're paying for the charm, yada, yada, yada.

 

Here is the current redfin link; check it out yourself:

 

http://www.redfin.com/CA/Hermosa-Beach/228-28th-Ct-90254/home/11905234#main

 

What got me really puzzled, was the fact that I just don't see where they are getting 620 square feet of living space out of this tiny cottage, based on the pix above. So, I started researching it. Because, that's just what I do. And what I found was that this cottage was in contract in late 2011 for $699,000 at 520 square (which immediately struck me as a more reasonable assessment of the home's size); clearly this deal never closed. I assume the bank nixed it for obvious reasons.

 

So, I search some more and find pictures of this house on an old website, and now I'm really puzzled. Because, other than repainting, the owner has done nothing that I can see to improve or expand the size of this home. Nothing other than covering the pergola with what appears to be a piece of plastic, and hanging up what look like hemmed sheets around the patio. Except, now the home is listed as being 620 square feet, and the owner is asking $120K more for it! Granted, the owners have come down $20K since the beginning of the year, but, you're still looking at a hundred grand for splashing some paint around, and moving your furniture outside, as far as I can see.

 

So here are the original pix from when it was listed at 520 square feet:

 

http://www.southerncaliforniahomes.com/south-bay/hermosa-beach/home/228-28th-Court,-Hermosa-Beach,-C...

 

My question now: am I missing something? Cuz it sure looks to me like the only 'expansion' that took place on this cottage is the 'al fresco' dining area. And my understanding is that only the air-conditioned space (or areas that would be air conditioned if there were AC) qualify as part of a home's living space. So, leaving aside the question of integrity and ethics, is it even legal to be advertising this home as being a hundred feet larger than it actually appears to be? Or, was the home expanded in such a way that I am just not seeing it?

 

Thanks so much! 

Trusted Contributor
Mikal
Posts: 184
Registered: ‎06-21-2008

Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?

Well they do give you big red flags regarding the sq. footage - "Square Footage Source: Estimated"  and "sqft is estimated".


You're right, they certianly cannot count that patio as "living space".  I'm just surprised that they're not calling it a 2-bedroom.  Anyway, ignoring the ethcis, does it really matter? 

 

At the end of the day it's going to be sold based on it's worth to someone, the true sq. footage, 500 or 600 sq. feet just doesn't strike me as a huge factor.  Call it tiny, call it small, no big difference with a property like this.  It's going to boil down to what someone, who can live with that amount of space, will pay for that location.  I'm not really disagreeing with you, they're definitely, intentionally being misleading.  So if you're actually interested then call them on it.  I'd call them on if just for fun.  

 

  *I* don't think that the "steps to the beach" thing is a big deal.  One man's step is another mans stride, and it's actually pretty darn close to the beach, isn't it?

 

Good luck.

Platinum Trusted Contributor
elt1
Posts: 5,188
Registered: ‎01-04-2010
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Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?

Get a tape measure. You are buying a house not sf....Not mattter what you buy you should measure it. SF is based on exterior size of conditioned space. Your realtor can look up on Realist to find assessed space. Your appraiser will also measure...I bet the numbers won't match..not an exact science.

Redfin Partner Agent
Adam-la
Posts: 1,914
Registered: ‎03-15-2011
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Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?


Jae_Jay wrote:

 

My question now: am I missing something? Cuz it sure looks to me like the only 'expansion' that took place on this cottage is the 'al fresco' dining area. And my understanding is that only the air-conditioned space (or areas that would be air conditioned if there were AC) qualify as part of a home's living space. So, leaving aside the question of integrity and ethics, is it even legal to be advertising this home as being a hundred feet larger than it actually appears to be? Or, was the home expanded in such a way that I am just not seeing it?

 


The short answer is yes.  They can market it with whatever square footage the seller claims as long as they say the source of that square footage claim.   It's silly and bound to be figured out by anyone looking seriously at the property.  

 

The only way to know the true square footage is to go measure it.   City and county records are typically close but inaccurate.  In this case, it's a small house with some extensions added and is close to the beach. 

Contributor
Jae_Jay
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎06-30-2011
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Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?

Thank you, and everyone else who responded. I guess I am very naive, because I simply didn't think this kind of in-your-face duplicity was allowed. I think I must have very fortunate in my past experiences with my agents and property sellers (well, except for one notable exception, who my broker told me just to walk away from -- good advice). I was simply shocked at the out and out deception beign practiced here. I've really never seen it that blatantly displayed before.

 

So, caveat emptor, right? I guess this is why an honest broker is so important when you are buying a home.

 

In this case, though, I have to disagree with your definition of "steps to the beach." I've asked several friends what they would think that phrase meant, and their opinion coincides with mine -- close enough that you can pcik up your folding chair, water bottle, and various other assorted beach prop and walk right over to the beach. That's not possible at this location. But -- as you said -- everybody's got their own interpretation.

 

And, yeah, I know that the house is only worth what someone will pay for it, regardlss of square footage and location. But, really, $1,538 PPSF (which is what you get when divide the asking price by the actual square footage)!?! That is a significantly higher PPSF than anything on the The Strand. That's just crazy.

Silver Super Contributor
Babak
Posts: 1,249
Registered: ‎05-01-2010
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Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?


Jae_Jay wrote:

Thank you, and everyone else who responded. I guess I am very naive, because I simply didn't think this kind of in-your-face duplicity was allowed. I think I must have very fortunate in my past experiences with my agents and property sellers (well, except for one notable exception, who my broker told me just to walk away from -- good advice). I was simply shocked at the out and out deception beign practiced here. I've really never seen it that blatantly displayed before.

 

So, caveat emptor, right? I guess this is why an honest broker is so important when you are buying a home.

 

In this case, though, I have to disagree with your definition of "steps to the beach." I've asked several friends what they would think that phrase meant, and their opinion coincides with mine -- close enough that you can pcik up your folding chair, water bottle, and various other assorted beach prop and walk right over to the beach. That's not possible at this location. But -- as you said -- everybody's got their own interpretation.

 

And, yeah, I know that the house is only worth what someone will pay for it, regardlss of square footage and location. But, really, $1,538 PPSF (which is what you get when divide the asking price by the actual square footage)!?! That is a significantly higher PPSF than anything on the The Strand. That's just crazy.


When corporations do it, it's called marketing and advertisement. Is it ever honest? I remember watching the Superbowl ads last weekend and asking myself how many #1 shows there are on TV because I saw at least 5 of them advertised. Of course what is said is often rationalized by what is not said. Anyways, like it or not, it is the reality of our system that you should never trust what a party to a transaction tells you.

 

No, a home is not worth what someone pays for it. That may be its fair market value for legal and accounting reasons but it is certainly not necessarily what it is worth. Few people think homes were worth their transaction price back in 2006. All you need is a large enough number of people to think that the merchandise is worth a certain amount and depending on how liquid that market is (real estate isn't too liquid), that will become its FMV. In a very liquid market, you need a larger percentage of participants to agree on the FMV than on a less liquid market.

Platinum Super Contributor
buyinghouse
Posts: 5,890
Registered: ‎04-23-2011
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Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?

  Keep going! Too much for a shack. :smileyvery-happy:

Contributor
Jae_Jay
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎06-30-2011
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Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?

[ Edited ]

I hear what you're saying. And I totally expect that there is going to be lots of exaggerating of good features and downplaying of bad features when I see a real estate listing. I totally get that. And your teevee analogy is a good one. I've read, at one time or another, that every single walk street In Manhattan Beach is THE most sought-after walk street in the city. LOL. I immediately thought of that when I read your teevee example. And I expect that kind of marketing ploy.

 

But this one, IMO, takes it to a whole different level. As I see it, someone has gone to considerable effort to perpetrate an out-and-out lie about this property. And I think he/she is doing it knowingly, relying on people either not looking up the actual measurements, or not knowing that, legally, the patio cannot be considered part of the total living area. That is wrong. I am sorry, but it's unethical and it gives the entire industry a bad name, IMO. Which is unfair. RE agents are not car salemen. It's really messed up when a few bad apples start acting like they are.

 

 

 

Contributor
Jae_Jay
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎06-30-2011
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Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?

[ Edited ]

Oh yeah, forgot to add -- that part about the square foot being estimated? Buyer verify? I am 95% certain that language wasn't there until after I posted my OP. Obviously, I have no way of proving that, but I cannot believe that I wouldn't have noticed it, had it been there when I was doing my comparisons. And I did not see it until just now when I checked on the link for the first time since my OP. Now it jumps out at the reader.

 

I'm also thinking that old site that I used for comparison won't be around much longer either.

 

 

Contributor
jaydub
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎05-26-2011
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Re: Surely This Cannot Possibly be Legal?


Jae_Jay wrote:
In this case, though, I have to disagree with your definition of "steps to the beach." I've asked several friends what they would think that phrase meant, and their opinion coincides with mine -- close enough that you can pcik up your folding chair, water bottle, and various other assorted beach prop and walk right over to the beach. That's not possible at this location. But -- as you said -- everybody's got their own interpretation.

 


You're way off-base here. "Steps to X" means simply "X is within walking distance," but this house, at 850 feet from the beach, even fits your definition of "close enough that you can pick up your folding chair, water bottle, and various other assorted beach prop and walk right over to the beach". Heck, the beach itself is 400'-500' wide at that point - would you consider it fraudulent to say an oceantfront home is "steps to the water"?