Legal Hotline: There is a Discrepancy in the Number of Bedrooms for My Listing

Legal Hotline Bedrooms Graphic

Q. There is a discrepancy between the town’s field card and the septic rating for my listing. What number of bedrooms can I use in my advertisements?

A. This is a something that is commonly encountered in the Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard real estate markets, where many homes have septic capacities that may differ from the town’s field card as well.

As a best practice, any advertisements should state the smaller of the two numbers when listing the number of bedrooms in the property. The property description may include language that highlights the discrepancy between the two sources, and note the potential for additional bedrooms. Including the smaller number as the bedroom count in advertising protects the listing agent from potential claims of misrepresenting the property. It is important to explain this to your listing clients and to make note of it to potential buyers.

Both Article 12 of the Realtor® Code of Ethics and Massachusetts regulations (254 CMR 3) prohibit false or misleading advertisements. A listing that uses the larger number of bedrooms likely runs afoul of both the Code of Ethics and Massachusetts regulations because it is not presenting a true picture of the property.

Services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at