RMS: Beyond the Principles
| August 25, 2016
Would you believe I’ve found an article on a U.S.-based real estate appraisers website that makes the statement “measuring a home and counting rooms can be as clear as mud”? It’s true that even appraisers recognize how difficult it can be to get consistent property measurements.
We know there are different standards in different jurisdictions. We know consumers want certain things included in their property’s size when they go to sell, and we know buyers want properties they’re viewing to be accurately described.
So, where does this put our Alberta real estate professionals?
Honestly, it’s because of these things that RECA introduced the Residential Measurement Standard (RMS) as a principles-based standard. It is near to impossible to cover every possible measurement situation in a single document.
But that doesn’t mean real estate professionals have carte blanche to ignore the RMS.
RECA recognizes not every situation is going to fit into a neat little box as described in principles 1-9 of the RMS. Sometimes, it’s going to be a bit more complicated – but the RMS lays the groundwork to get it right, consistently, for the benefit of all consumers.
So what is a real estate professional to do when something really isn’t clear?
When in doubt, write it out. Explain and document everything in your files. If you’ve made certain assumptions in the property measurements or area statements, you need to explain what you’ve done and why, and share that information with prospective buyers.
Recently, RECA reviewed a complaint file that rested on whether the entry-level of a home was above grade. The listing real estate professional believed it was above grade and included it in the above grade square footage. However, the home was a hillside property. Part of the entry-level floor sits slightly below a concrete pad in the back of the house. That concrete pad prevented the listing real estate professional from visually verifying if the entry-level floor is actually above grade. In this case, because of that uncertainty, the listing real estate professional should have included a remark that because of the concrete pad, it was unclear whether the entry-level floor was above grade.
When you take extra time to explain the situation, it can lower the chance of accusations about misrepresentation.
Real estate professionals need to abide by the RMS. But when something isn’t clear or when the RMS doesn’t capture the specific situation with which you’re faced – you need to make sure that’s clear in the property’s listing.