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The Question You Don’t Want From Buyers: What’s the Square Footage?

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

The Zillow Blog recently featured an interesting article by real estate pro Brendon DeSimone about how advertising the square footage of a home can derail a deal. It may make you rethink featuring the square footage on your listings.

There are no universal methods to measuring square footage, according to DeSimone. As such, the numbers in measuring a home’s size can sometimes get skewed–even appraisers may arrive at different figures. A city’s tax records may not offer up an accurate picture either, since it may omit renovations and expansions made to the property over the years. And the square footage listed on records pulled from architectural drawings of the home are considered “wall out” measurements, including the entire space to the exterior wall. Once the walls are in place, the square footage will likely be lower.

As DeSimone notes in the article, “dozens of lawsuits make it to court, and tens of thousands of dollars are spent arguing over as little as 50 square feet.”

If you feel a need to list the square footage for a home you’re trying to sell, you’d be wise to add a disclaimer like “appraiser’s estimation” or “per tax records,” DeSimone suggests.

Have you ever had a square footage dispute unravel one of your deals?

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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Comments
  1. Jerome White

    Contrary to what the “real estate pro” Brendon DeSimone says there is an ac- cepted method for calculating the square footage of residential buildings. At the request of the National Association of Home Builders, the American National Standards Institute published the Square Footage-Method for Calculating on April 8, 1996. This publication, better known as the ANSI Standard, is widely accepted as the method for calculating the square footage of single-family residential buildings and it can be purchased from the NAHB Research Center (301) 249-4000. This 11 page publication is an “easy read” and a comprehensive guide on how to calculate the gross living area of a residential structure.

  2. Beth Graham

    I agree with Jerome – the ANSI standard is the accepted method for measuring a home and should be used. Burying your head in the sand is not the way to list a property, hire a qualified appraiser to measure your listing!

  3. Thanks to Jerome. There are too many real estate professionals blogging about issues without doing the proper study and preparation. Knowing the square footage of a home is very important to buyers, and can have an impact on value especially in an appraisal situation. It can be done in an acceptable way if you take the time to learn how.

  4. I’ve seen a few deals fall apart because of square footage discrepincies, which made both the seller and buyer unhappy. but I’ve also seen errors in square footage discovered a few years after deals closed and that is much worse for everyone.

  5. I agree with Jerome – the ANSI standard is the accepted method for measuring a home and should be used. Burying your head in the sand is not the way to list a property, hire a qualified appraiser to measure your listing!

  6. eileen

    I agree with the author. I always tell my buyers to beware of listed sq footage amounts because although there is a standard, many agents do not adhere to the standard therefore ruining the vadility of the entries in the mls.

  7. This article is really awesome.There must be some universal methods for measuring square footage.Once the walls are in place, the square footage will likely be lower.Thanks for this piece of information.

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