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Real Estate & Property Law

Lawyer’s Suit Against Developer Claims Condo Was Missing 109 Square Feet

Posted Feb 22, 2011 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A New York lawyer who says the condo he wanted to buy was missing 109 promised square feet is taking his dispute to trial next month.

Rishi Bhandari agreed to pay $795,000 for a two-bedroom apartment in a building being converted to condominiums, the New York Times reports. Shortly before closing, he noticed the unit was smaller than he expected. The bedrooms, living room and kitchen were supposed to cover 743 square feet, but Bhandari’s measurements showed 634 square feet.

The developer offered to refund Bhandari’s deposit and let him out of the contract, but Bhandari didn’t like the offer. Instead, Bhandari wanted a price reduction for the discrepancy, calculated to be about $111,000 by one appraiser. His suit claims deceptive trade practices and false advertising.

The developer has countered that its offering plans warned that square footage was approximate, and included “points behind the boundary walls.” Its countersuit claims Bhandari breached the purchase contract.

“In a city where every square inch is precious,” the Times writes, “Mr. Bhandari’s case goes to the heart of one of the most contentious topics in real estate: how to measure the size of a home. Some calculations include the closets; some count the space between walls; many, it seems, contain a few dozen square feet pulled out of thin air. There is no hard rule, and so lawsuits are uncommon.”

The case was scheduled for trial last week, but the developer sought a continuance. Jury selection is now scheduled for March 23, Bhandari tells the ABA Journal.

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