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Silver Trusted Contributor
nj2bayarea
Posts: 839
Registered: ‎05-11-2009
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Re: Square footage is different between public records and seller claim

 


PatentAvenger wrote:

There are a number of reasons why an actual home size can vary from county records.  Some of these reasons are unlawful ones (unpermitted addition, realtor lying about square footage, etc.), but a number of them are not.  Errors can and do occur at many different levels, and country records should not be taken as gospel.  The only way to know for sure is to measure and also ask about unpermitted additions (or have the seller explain the discrepancy).

 

In our home there appears to be a 100 to 200 square foot discrepancy between the actual square footage and what the county has.  We actually are at a loss to explain what happened.  We did a very large remodel (with permits) adding a lot of square footage, and were required to report the added square footage in those permits.  The city simply took the old reported square footage on file and added the addition, but their number comes up short of what an appraiser found in an actual measurement late last year.  Our best guess is that the original builder simply misreported the square footage of the house to the county 40 years ago. Another possibility is that our contractor built the addition bigger than he was supposed to, but for obvious reasons I doubt it (the biggest of which is that he didn't charge us more for that :smileyhappy:

 

And we only had one remodel, I can only imagine how hard it is to track overall square footage when multiple remodels may have been involved over time.

 

There is also the fact that some counties don't count certain things in square footage that realtors do, and vice versa, and the rules vary from city to city.  More than one city, for example, only count basement square footage as "half" of non-basement, and some cities count it that way for permit purposes, but may or may not include it in the recorded (assessed) square footage. 


PatentAvenger - related to the two highlighted points above in your post...how would you go about having the county update their record to reflect the larger sq footage as determined by the appraiser vs what they have in their records? Is there anything you can do about it or is it a lost cause?

 

Super Contributor
PatentAvenger
Posts: 251
Registered: ‎02-02-2010
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Re: Square footage is different between public records and seller claim

[ Edited ]

 


nj2bayarea wrote:

 


PatentAvenger wrote:

There are a number of reasons why an actual home size can vary from county records.  Some of these reasons are unlawful ones (unpermitted addition, realtor lying about square footage, etc.), but a number of them are not.  Errors can and do occur at many different levels, and country records should not be taken as gospel.  The only way to know for sure is to measure and also ask about unpermitted additions (or have the seller explain the discrepancy).

 

In our home there appears to be a 100 to 200 square foot discrepancy between the actual square footage and what the county has.  We actually are at a loss to explain what happened.  We did a very large remodel (with permits) adding a lot of square footage, and were required to report the added square footage in those permits.  The city simply took the old reported square footage on file and added the addition, but their number comes up short of what an appraiser found in an actual measurement late last year.  Our best guess is that the original builder simply misreported the square footage of the house to the county 40 years ago. Another possibility is that our contractor built the addition bigger than he was supposed to, but for obvious reasons I doubt it (the biggest of which is that he didn't charge us more for that :smileyhappy:

 

And we only had one remodel, I can only imagine how hard it is to track overall square footage when multiple remodels may have been involved over time.

 

There is also the fact that some counties don't count certain things in square footage that realtors do, and vice versa, and the rules vary from city to city.  More than one city, for example, only count basement square footage as "half" of non-basement, and some cities count it that way for permit purposes, but may or may not include it in the recorded (assessed) square footage. 


PatentAvenger - related to the two highlighted points above in your post...how would you go about having the county update their record to reflect the larger sq footage as determined by the appraiser vs what they have in their records? Is there anything you can do about it or is it a lost cause?

 


 

I'm not sure.  Another poster mentioned the possibility of paying a fee and having it recalculated.  I'd talk to the city you are in about it (not the county, unless you are unincorporated), because its usually the city permits that set the record.

 

That being said, I'm not really sure why you'd want to correct this.  When you go to sell the house, you are allowed to put in the MLS listing any number you want (assuming you have a legitimate reason to do so) for square footage, and just say "per appraisal" or "buyer to verify" so when people do searches they will find your number, not the county's (keep a copy of the appraisal to prove you weren't lying).  The county/city is almost certainly going to charge a fee to correct, and may in fact want to do a reinspection to determine why there was a difference (if they suspect, for example, an illegal addition), which may result in additional permit fees or even needing to hire a contractor to bring things up to code.  Also, your property taxes are caluclated based on the square footage of your house.  While for the most part prop 13 has made it so the actual value of your house rarely affects your property tax amount, in the last few years it actually has due to the falling prices, so why would you want them to base the comps they use to set your tax amount on a 2800 square foot house when they could base it on a 2600 square foot house and likely come up with a lower appraisal?

Platinum Super Contributor
Nanomug
Posts: 10,369
Registered: ‎05-30-2009
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Re: Square footage is different between public records and seller claim

If the difference in square feet is a measuring issue rather than an unpermitted addition the property taxes will not be affected.  Permitted additions increase the value of the home and the tax base.  However, it all resets when its sold to the the sold price.  It would likely be a fight if the tax folks decide to add the 20 year old addition to the current tax bill on a home purchased last year.

Super Contributor
PatentAvenger
Posts: 251
Registered: ‎02-02-2010
0

Re: Square footage is different between public records and seller claim

[ Edited ]

 


Nanomug wrote:

If the difference in square feet is a measuring issue rather than an unpermitted addition the property taxes will not be affected.  Permitted additions increase the value of the home and the tax base.  However, it all resets when its sold to the the sold price.  It would likely be a fight if the tax folks decide to add the 20 year old addition to the current tax bill on a home purchased last year.


 

Ah but it would be a tax issue.  Not in year 1 (where, as you say, the tax base is the purchase price), but starting in year 2, where the base is the LOWER of 2% above last years base OR the actual appraised value of the house.  Since the tax assessor generally doesn't come around looking at everyone's houses, they just use the recorded square footage and compare it to other homes of around the same square footage in the area that have sold the previous year. 

 

It only matters if the home decreases in value at some point so that its less than the 2%/year increase from the original purchase price, but square footage definitely played a part in many people's property tax bill the past couple years as property prices fell below the prop 13 numbers.