Crack down on mea­sur­ing meth­ods needed

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - MARTY HOPE

Some real­tors are con­cerned peo­ple buy­ing re­sale con­dos might not be get­ting what they are pay­ing for. The prob­lem is the method be­ing used by the Cal­gary Real Es­tate Board for mea­sur­ing con­dos, they say.

In the sin­gle-fam­ily hous­ing sec­tor, a 1,080-square-foot home (100 square me­tres) refers to the amount of liv­ing space.

In the re­sale condo world, 1,080 square feet might or might not be liv­ing space. It could in­clude a park­ing stall, deck, or stor­age space, with the amount of ac­tual liv­ing space be­ing smaller.

The dis­crep­ancy ap­pears to oc­cur in the in­ter­pre­ta­tion by real­tors of “es­ti­mated liv­ing size” and “reg­is­tered size” mea­sure­ments re­quired by the board, say two real­tors who fo­cus much of their busi­ness on sell­ing con­do­mini­ums.

Mike MacLean, a for­mer mem­ber of the board’s con­do­minium com­mit­tee, and CREB past­pres­i­dent Mar­lene Swin­ton, have voiced their con­cerns about the is­sue and the fact buy­ers and sell­ers of con­dos might not be get­ting the square footage they be­lieve.

“Buy­ers need to un­der­stand what’s in­cluded in the mea­sure­ments and what the ac­tual liv­ing area is,” says MacLean, who works out of the Re/Max Cen­tral of­fice.

Swin­ton, who works with Real Es­tate Pro­fes­sion­als Inc., says that while the real es­tate board has a uni­form set of rules and reg­u­la­tions for mea­sur­ing con­dos, there are con­cerns about how they are be­ing used.

“We have a sit­u­a­tion where there is no un­der­stood sys­tem of mea­sure­ment and real­tors don’t re­ally know how to cor­rectly en­ter the re­quired in­for­ma­tion,” she says.

Adds MacLean: “CREB is not en­forc­ing the rules and won’t in­sist a real­tor change in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion even if it is brought to their at­ten­tion by a con­cerned real­tor, seller or buyer.”

There are two dif­fer­ent mea­sure­ments for con­dos.

The reg­is­tered size refers to the size of the con­do­minium unit as reg­is­tered through Al­berta Land Ti­tles and must be ver­i­fied from the Reg­is­tered Con­do­minium Plan. This size might in­clude park­ing stalls, garages, be­low­grade ar­eas, bal­conies and stor­age ar­eas. Liv­ing area size, which has a sep­a­rate data­base on the MLS sys­tem, in­cludes any above-grade, de­vel­oped, heated liv­ing space — and doesn’t in­clude stalls, the garage or stor­age ar­eas.

MacLean says there are real­tors who don’t know how to prop­erly fill out the re­quired sec­tions of the MLS data­base and might be mis­lead­ing their clients.

“A lot of them don’t un­der­stand how to cor­rectly cal­cu­late the size based on board re­quire­ments,” he says.

The con­cern here is if a real­tor de­cides not to fill out the liv­ing area size — which is dif­fer­ent than the reg­is­tered size — the seller might not have as many show­ings be­cause po­ten­tial pur­chasers search­ing the list­ings by size won’t be able to find the prop­erty. So it is up to the buyer of a condo to know what the square footage of a condo in­cludes, says Swin­ton.

“Ask ques­tions: How big is the liv­ing space? It is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial to un­der­stand what is in­cluded in the size of the condo,” she says.

Buy­ers should also ver­ify if the prop­erty is a bare­land or con­ven­tional condo. A bare­land condo is gen­er­ally where the land in a com­mu­nity or project is owned in com­mon as a con­do­minium — with ev­ery­thing built on the land, such as houses, be­long­ing to the in­di­vid­ual unit own­ers.

In a con­ven­tional condo, in­di­vid­ual buy­ers own each unit, with the sur­round­ing struc­ture — such as an apart­ment com­plex — and its grounds owned jointly.

With a bare­land condo, a real prop­erty re­port is re­quired. Buy­ers should also find out if park­ing and stor­age are as­signed, leased or ti­tled, and if each has a sep­a­rate ti­tle or are un­der a sin­gle ti­tle.

Get­ting back to the mea­sur­ing is­sue, the prob­lem as Swin­ton sees it is that the board has not made mea­sure­ment of the condo’s liv­ing area a re­quire­ment.

“That is the crux of the whole prob­lem,” she says.

Don Dick­son, busi­ness prac­tices man­ager for CREB, says the board has a very detailed mea­sure­ment guide.

In this mar­ket, though, sell­ers are de­mand­ing their real­tors use the size builders and de­vel­op­ers used when they orig­i­nally bought the prop­erty, he says.

“As there is no stan­dard of mea­sure­ment in Al­berta, the board can­not en­force our method of mea­sure­ment,” he says.

What the board has done is im­ple­ment two manda­tory fields in its data­base which are au­dited and cor­rected if nec­es­sary.

The reg­is­tered size is manda­tory and is the only stan­dard of mea­sure­ment de­fined in the Con­do­minium Prop­erty Act. It is reg­is­tered on the plan of ev­ery condo prop­erty in the prov­ince.

The sec­ond manda­tory field is “reg­is­tered size in­cludes” — and ev­ery con­do­minium plan de­fines how the reg­is­tered size is de­ter­mined and lists what is in­cluded in that size.

“The reg­is­tered plan does not clearly list what is in­cluded in the reg­is­tered size,” says MacLean.

“It must be cal­cu­lated based on the mea­sure­ments to see what is and what is not in­cluded in the reg­is­tered size. You can’t sim­ply look at a plan and see a list of what is in­cluded.”

As for liv­ing area mea­sure­ments, Dick­son says CREB has asked the Al­berta Real Es­tate As­so­ci­a­tion to lobby the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to stan­dard­ize the liv­ing area cal­cu­la­tion of mea­sure­ment and in­clude that size on the con­do­minium plan.

MacLean also says buy­ers and sell­ers should try to un­der­stand they need to ver­ify the in­for­ma­tion their real­tor is rep­re­sent­ing.

“The sim­ple fact is the buyer can be eas­ily mis­in­formed and mis­led the way CREB is do­ing things,” he says. “As well, sell­ers can get fewer show­ings — and pos­si­bly get sued down the road — for mis­rep­re­sent­ing the size, even though it was their real­tor that mis­led them.”

Cal­gary Her­ald Archive

There are con­cerns about rules and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing condo mea­sur­ing, says real­tor Mar­lene Swin­ton.

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