Buyer beware: The curious case of the shrinking condo

When a presale assignment for condo unit 2609 of Westbank’s Vancouver House first appeared on the market in October 2015, the listing indicate the unit had an area of 900 square feet. The listing realtor Dexter Realty’s Kris Pope eventually managed to sell the unit for $880,000 fetching $977 per square foot.

When the buyer flipped the condo two year later, the new realtor Steven Forlin of Oakwyn Realty had indicated 756 as the square footage of the condo, and succeeded in selling it for $1,250,000 for a per-square-foot price of $1,653.

How did the condo mysteriously lose 144 square feet of area?

The answer lies in the ambiguity surrounding whether realtors should include balconies in the square footage or not.

Westbank’s floor plans for unit 2609 advertise the condo as containing 900 square feet of living area. In a smaller print this is broken down as 756 square feet of “indoor living” and 144 square feet of “outdoor living”.

According to Real Estate Council of British Columbia’s Professional Standards Manual1:

Developers, in order to increase the apparent size of strata lots, have in many cases included areas such as balconies, large patios, and even parking stalls in the strata lot measurements.

The manual further goes on to advise realtors:

In advertising or representations made by licensees about the size of a strata lot, it is suggested that the square area of the strata lot, together with any exclusive-use areas that have been designated [limited common property] LCP for that strata lot, be set out in similar manner to the following example:

Strata lot of 1,400 square feet and the exclusive use of balcony, large patio and two parking spaces which have been designated as limited common property.

Forlin seems to take heed of these guidelines, advertising 756 square foot as the area, and clarify the measurements further in the general remarks2:

This beautiful 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom residence has 756 square feet of indoor living space and 144 square feet of outdoor living including two terraces, for a total of 900 square feet.

How about Pope?

People lists 900 as the square footage and says in the remarks3:

This home is a functional, south/east facing 2 bedroom suite, with 144 square feet of copper clad terraces and views to False Creek and the city skyline.

Did Pope adhere to the guidelines?

We’ll leave that up to the readers decide.

So, can you trust the measurements advertised buy the realtors?

The realtors themselves are absolving themselves of any responsibility and leaving it up to the buyers to fend for themselves with the “caveat emptor clause” buried in the strata property disclosure statement:

The buyer acknowledges that all measurements are approximate. The buyer should obtain a strata plan drawing from the Land Title Office or retain a professional home measuring service if the buyer is concerned about the size.


2 thoughts on “Buyer beware: The curious case of the shrinking condo

  1. You’d have to be an idiot to not realize that it wasn’t actually 900sqft. And on MLS, realtors are not allowed to advertise in this way, so I really don’t see the issue.

    1. So as a realtor , when you list the condo as 900 sq ft , you consider your client idiots for falling for it.
      Why not list it as 750 sq ft inside and 145 sq ft of balcony….?

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