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  1. #1

    Default Purchased a Home Based Upon Misrepresented Square Footage From Unpermitted Additions

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: California, City of Los Angeles.

    I recently purchased an old house. realtor set us up with home inspectors who really seemed to be ok with most everything on their check lists. after purchasing the house and hiring various trades to give us quotes on updating things we came to find out all sorts of problems, in the plumbing, the roof, the electrical, structural, etc. there was even an illegal attic renovation, but we knew that it wasn't legal and purchased with the plan to renovate the attic into a master bath closet area and legalize that space. turns out much more of the house isn't legal, and that the square footage we were sold isn't accurate.

    BACK STORY: did A LOT of digging to get this info but prior to 1970 a rear addition was added illegally, in 1974 a pool with permit pulled was installed and the city inspector during the various permit inspection points for the pool missed the rear addition every time, but randomly after the pool was complete and permit signed off the county assessors office was notified and they sent out their assessor to adjust accordingly because of the new pool and this assessor did NOT miss the illegal addition to the house, however instead of reporting it to the city the assessor just re measured the original home sq footage reducing it from 1,680 to 1,440 and then added 451 square feet for the illegal addition into the tax assessment, which then became the square footage used to sell the house every time it has been sold after that. at some point after that a second story bedroom, staircase, and bathroom was also illegal put in, and a first story bathroom was enlarged (none of it permitted).

    it was very hard for us to tell based on all the drawings we were provided by our realtor with the original house being built in 1928 and drawings say 1,640 sq ft. however we were told that the upstairs must be included based off the square footage assessment and our appraisers assessment of 1,891!! Now we are finding out there is structural issues with the 2nd story (its missing load bearing walls and sagging) we have had multiple contractors back out as we are trying to bring the house up to code. we are NOT trying to flip the house we love it and want to live in it however we have been in it for almost 5 months and still scared to move into the upstairs or do any renovations based off this discovery.

    can any one advise what path we should take? we can't sell the house at the 1891 sq ft we purchased it at because we know that isn't true. and if we wanted to get out of this house and sell it to someone at the legal square footage we would lose about $70,000. The other odd thing is the house has been bought and sold at least 3 times before us and since 1974 and every time its been appraised at 1891 sq ft and taxed according to that, so for 45 years it has been taxed, appraised, and sold incorrectly. thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,959

    Default Re: Purchased House at 1,891 Sq Ft, House is Only 1,440 Sq Ft ($60,000 Difference in

    Thoughts?

    Yeah.

    You could have, and should have, found out about all this stuff before you even made the offer.

    I think you are stuck.

    But talk to a lawyer and review your options.

    By the way, home inspectors that are referred by realtors depend on the realtor referrals to stay in business. They tend to miss a lot of stuff because they'd be out of business if they spoil deals for the realtors by reporting all the things wrong with a house.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,059

    Default Re: Purchased House at 1,891 Sq Ft, House is Only 1,440 Sq Ft ($60,000 Difference in

    Even if the home inspector is procured independently, they're generally useless. Their contracts are so weasel-worded that there is no responsibility on their part for omissions and other negligence.
    At this point, it doesn't even seem that there is any negligence or omission here. Home inspectors and appraisers don't do permit checks.

    Houses are sold as is. SF claims in MLS are almost always disclaimed as not being accurate. They're purely advertising, not an enforceable contract.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,293

    Default Re: Purchased House at 1,891 Sq Ft, House is Only 1,440 Sq Ft ($60,000 Difference in

    Quote Quoting jeffreykubiak
    View Post
    . BACK STORY: did A LOT of digging to get this info but prior to 1970 a rear addition was added illegally, in 1974 a pool with permit pulled was installed and the city inspector during the various permit inspection points for the pool missed the rear addition every time, but randomly after the pool was complete and permit signed off the county assessors office was notified and they sent out their assessor to adjust accordingly because of the new pool and this assessor did NOT miss the illegal addition to the house, however instead of reporting it to the city the assessor just re measured the original home sq footage reducing it from 1,680 to 1,440 and then added 451 square feet for the illegal addition into the tax assessment, which then became the square footage used to sell the house every time it has been sold after that. at some point after that a second story bedroom, staircase, and bathroom was also illegal put in, and a first story bathroom was enlarged (none of it permitted). it was very hard for us to tell based on all the drawings we were provided by our realtor with the original house being built in 1928 and drawings say 1,640 sq ft. however we were told that the upstairs must be included based off the square footage assessment and our appraisers assessment of 1,891!! ?
    You are under some misconception that there is a nexus between permitted (or not permitted) additions to the house and the assessed value of the home as it is at the time of the assessment. Even if additions were added without permits, the house is what it is when reassessed.


    Quote Quoting jeffreykubiak
    View Post
    . Now we are finding out there is structural issues with the 2nd story (its missing load bearing walls and sagging) we have had multiple contractors back out as we are trying to bring the house up to code. we are NOT trying to flip the house we love it and want to live in it however we have been in it for almost 5 months and still scared to move into the upstairs or do any renovations based off this discovery. ?
    I think you are being a bit melodramatic. Unless you are planning to exceed normal residential square foot load on the floor upstairs, you probably have nothing to worry about. That's not to say that you shouldn't correct it if you renovate, but the floor is not going to collapse if you live on the second floor.

    Quote Quoting jeffreykubiak
    View Post
    . can any one advise what path we should take? we can't sell the house at the 1891 sq ft we purchased it at because we know that isn't true. and if we wanted to get out of this house and sell it to someone at the legal square footage we would lose about $70,000. The other odd thing is the house has been bought and sold at least 3 times before us and since 1974 and every time its been appraised at 1891 sq ft and taxed according to that, so for 45 years it has been taxed, appraised, and sold incorrectly. thoughts?
    How would you lose $70,000 selling the house at the current assessed value? Seems you would make money. The assessed value has caught up with legal and illegal additions to the property. The assessed value is what it is today. What the assessed value was when you bought the property is no longer any factor in the potential sale of the property.

    And besides, the assessed value for tax purposes is not the same as the sale price. Assessed value is often less the sale price.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    3,619

    Default Re: Purchased House at 1,891 Sq Ft, House is Only 1,440 Sq Ft ($60,000 Difference in

    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post

    I think you are being a bit melodramatic. Unless you are planning to exceed normal residential square foot load on the floor upstairs, you probably have nothing to worry about. That's not to say that you shouldn't correct it if you renovate, but the floor is not going to collapse if you live on the second floor.
    I think they're more worried about the roof collapsing onto the second floor while they're in bed.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,647

    Default Re: Purchased House at 1,891 Sq Ft, House is Only 1,440 Sq Ft ($60,000 Difference in

    thoughts?
    work with your local building department to make the constructs built without a permit legal, if possible. That would restore the area available to advertise properly to the 1891.

    Are your homes assessed by square footage (square foot multiplied by some number established by the county/state/whatever) or is it based on a market value?

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