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Visitor
SouthFlorida
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎02-02-2012
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Re: The systemic lie of square footage

In my market area, public records is pretty accurate as to condominium gross living area data.  Thus, the Realtor  that misinforms a buyer as to gross living area  will not be a factor in the appraised value.   A problem could arise in the following manner:  Buyer thinks his property is worth more than other units in the building (i.e 1/1 condos in the same bld.--because the Realtor told the buyer that the gross living area was 1200 square feet and the other units in the building are 1000 sq. ft. Meanwhile the adjusted range for the comparables is  80, 87, and 89K...  If the contract is for 88K..  the appraiser may not want to kill the deal for $1,000.  So the appraiser values the property at 88K instead of a more supportable 87K value..  This is a simplified example...  but you get the idea....  so the realtor skewed the process originally by misinforming the buyer of the gross living area in the first place...

As to eyeballing gross living area.. most people do not have this ability.....   Repeat after me..  balconies and terraces are not to be included in gross living area!  I always tell buyers to get an independent appraisal from an appraiser on a major purchase before offering and do not tell your Realtor..  Realtors are commissioned based and want their deals to work... as they say.....

Trusted Contributor
Sleepwalker
Posts: 195
Registered: ‎04-24-2010
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Re: The systemic lie of square footage

I was shocked when I found out the living space was measured using exterior dimensions. I tape measured each room in the house we're buying and it come out to around 1500sf or so. The house was listed at 1900sf or so. Using the exterior calculations I got around 1900, but that included the attached garage. I tried to get a deduction on the property, but they refused and I wanted to buy the house anyway.

 

The appraisal came in around 1600-1700. Anyway, good luck. 

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novadog
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎04-11-2012
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Check online for public data

[ Edited ]

My suggestion is to look up the public records online or go into the town hall. In Massachusetts it seems that all the public records are online. Try googling "your_town_name your_state assessors database"

 

I've noticed that these sites are often hosted by third parties that are subcontracted to by the town. So the site could be different than the town government's site.

 

The dimensions are exterior dimensions and typically include separate amounts for finished, unfinished, each floor, basement, garage, exterior deck, screen porch, etc. The amount should only include finished above-grade interior space unless a comment is included in the disclosures.

Regular Contributor
JimR
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎03-12-2012
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Re: The systemic lie of square footage

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I've looked at dozens of homes and not one of them had accurate square footage. I've guesstimated inflation by as much as 40% in some cases. In one case, I even brought my tape, measured myself, and I always round in the seller's favor (i.e. angular spaces I give the whole area as if it were square).

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And what standard did you use when you measured to determine whether their numebrs were accurate or not?  

 

I've seen the square footage rants a few times now in these forums but what people seem to misunderstand is that there is no universial standard for calculating square footage.  15 different people can all go and measure a property on the same day and all come up with completely different numbers because they all pick and choose what they consider to be living space and what isn't.   Even the one attempt at creating a standard (the ANSI Standard) failed to address a lot of specific circumstances.


Here in MA the public records are pretty good but they are far from perfect.  The local tax assessor's don't follow the ANSI standard but use their own modified version of it.  Recorded footage tend to follow the same system within a given town but you can't compare across towns.  Different assessor, different system.

Redfin Open Book Certified
LoansbyJW
Posts: 3,214
Registered: ‎04-30-2009
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Re: The systemic lie of square footage

I had a builder loan last year that fit this thread.

 

New construction condo. The unit was for all intents and purposes a rectangle. The builders brochure came up to 2,000 SF. The appraiser the borrower chose came in at 1800. They were screwing up the deal, so the borrower called me. Our appraiser came in at 1900 SF.

 

Why the difference?

 

The builder was measuring the gross interior space without pony walls, cabinets in some cases, etc. The original appraiser didn't count interior unit stairwells. We did, only in that it's perfectly legitimate to do so.

 

Beauty, or in this case square footage, is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Thanks for reading,

John Wheaton NMLS 653018 | Redfin Open Book Recommended Lender
See all my reviews
Contributor
leonF
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎01-31-2012
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Re: The systemic lie of square footage

You kind of flippantly dismissed my point without thinking it through.  I gave free square footage to the favor of the seller in every possible way and still fell short of their numbers -- by a lot.  I'm aware of the various ways to measure.  Exterior base is total bull**bleep**.  Interior to the framing is also less than honest. I count bathrooms and closets even though these aren't technically living spaces. The published numbers are never not exaggerated.

Regular Contributor
JimR
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎03-12-2012

Re: The systemic lie of square footage

Seems to me that it is you being flippant here without thinking it through.

 

While you may dislike the exterior base measurements, they *are* the base starting point for measuring within the ANSI standard.  That's why I asked what system you used when measuring.

 

No matter how you measure from inside and how many square feet you give away in favor of the seller you will ALWAYS come up short if they measured using the ANSI  system (or one of it's variations that FHA, VA or HUD uses).

 

You don't see bathrooms and closets as "technically" being living space but all of the current standards for measuring do.  You'll also note that the MLS doesn't list "Living Space". It lists "Square Footage" (i.e. Sq. Ft.).  "Living space" hasn't been used since the 1980s. Two completely different concepts.

 

As I said earlier, there is no single exact standard that covers measuring. If you come up with a different number than the seller then your only option is to ask them how they came up with their number.  It's up to them to justify their claims.  You may not like how they came up with their numbers but if they can justify them by using a recognized standard you don't have much room for complaint.

 

As for published numbers always being exagerated:

 

http://www.redfin.com/MA/Berlin/128-Ball-Hill-Rd-01503/home/16472763

 

The house is listed as being 3.456 Sq ft.

 

The public records for it list it at 2,700 Sq Ft of "finished space".  The notes in the listing also mention that the listed total includes and additional 668 Sq Ft of finished basement and a new sun room (which is listed as being 13'x16'), neither of which the town counted in the public records.  Total those up.  2700+668+208 = 3,576.  They shorted themselves 120 sq ft.

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KitchenQueen
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎03-26-2013
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Re: The systemic lie of square footage

I just bailed on a house that I offered well on and with excellent terms. At first, I was disappointed that the so-called "paddock" was actually a very small front yard surrounded by a decayed split rail fence chewed by post beetles or termites, most of which was on the ground. The "horse condos" were two wrecked tool sheds--listing agent had described the place as an equestrian area. But the house was well built though very dated and all fixtures workaday and joyless. But I had decided to try to fix it. When I started to measure for new kitchen counters I was surprised to find distance between counters less than 40"--very cramped. Doorway was 33" across. Same with dining room. Huh? Then I measured rooms: House described in listing as a hair under 3,000 sq ft was actually only a hair above 2,000. She had said that with finished basement it was 1400 more square feet. But at that point I WAS OUT. There's a limit to how many misrepresentations this buyer is willing to absorb. Unfortunately I paid for the septic tank inspection already. Now I have to renegotiate the already completed house inspection price: He based his price on sq footage. And here's the hard part: Town records reflect the higher vastly inflated interior living above ground sq footage.
Silver Contributor
New2BA
Posts: 484
Registered: ‎05-14-2012

Re: The systemic lie of square footage

Hi, I see this is a very old thread- but there's a google tool you can use online to estimate sq footage:

http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm

 

Of course it doesn't tell you the condition of the house or measure counter space, etc but if the house isn't too irregularly shaped it's a lot faster than doing the measuring yourself.  

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FrankJL
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎06-22-2014
0

Re: The systemic lie of square footage

When I sold real estate in Santa Clara County, CA, there was an accepted method of determining square footage, and it was NOT the sum of all the "rooms."

Square footage is measure by the outside perimeter of the home, NOT including spaces like garages and NOT additions added without permit. Thus stairways and bathrooms are part of the "square footage."