The following article was printed in the September, 2016 issue of OREA’s The Edge. It is reprinted with permission.
RECO DECISION: Lot size error leads to complaint
The following decision from RECO Discipline and Appeal Hearings has been condensed. All individual and corporate names have been changed.
Jackie and Mike wanted to sell their property. They were working with Mark, a salesperson with Tops Realty. Mark listed their property on the MLS® System. The lot size in the listing was stated to be 31.99 feet by 119.91 feet.
About a month later, Cindy and Bob signed an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) to buy the property. Since the information about the property was obtained from the MLS® listing, the lot size in the APS was also stated to be 31.99 feet by 119.91 feet.
After purchasing the home, the buyers discovered that the lot size was smaller than described. They complained to RECO that the lot size was in fact 31.99 feet by 109.91 feet and that they were misled by the MLS® listing and the APS. The couple said they felt they had overpaid for the property. They also included their sales representative, Sally from Witt Realty, in their complaint because she did not check the dimensions of the lot.
The buyers provided RECO with a copy of the MLS® listing from May 2006 prepared by Country Real Estate as well as a report by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, both of which included the correct property dimensions. Cindy and Bob also provided two MLS® listings for 2012 and one for 2013 — all with incorrect dimensions — prepared by Mark of Tops Realty.
Mark stated that the 2006 listing stated that the dimensions were 32 feet by 110 feet. He tried to change the numbers to be more precise, matching them with data from GeoWarehouse, a web-based property information site, which showed the dimensions to be 31.99 feet by 109.91 feet. He said that he had made a mistake when entering the numbers and that mistake continued to appear in the subsequent re-listings of the property.
The RECO panel determined that Mark acted unprofessionally by failing to verify the correct lot dimensions of the property that he listed for sale on MLS® and in the APS. Mark’s actions also exposed his sellers to possible civil litigation for misrepresenting the property.
The panel ruled that Mark breached the following sections of the REBBA 2002 Code of Ethics: (4) Best interests; (5) Conscientious and competent service, etc.; and (38) Error, misrepresentation, fraud etc. Mark’s actions also exposed his sellers to civil litigation for misrepresenting their property.
Mark was fined $6,000, payable to RECO. The full decision can be viewed on the RECO web site at www.reco.on.ca. Look under “Complaints and Enforcement” and then under “Regulatory activities and decisions” and scroll down to “Disciplines and appeals decisions.” Scroll down and click on “Search by year.” Select 2014 then “Search.” It is the second case dated 2014/12/01.