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Posts: 12
Registered: ‎03-15-2012

House mls listing square footage does not match with tax record

I'm interested in buying a house from an investor. The house is listed as 2600 sqft but the tax record only show ~1600 sqft. I did some research and found this was previously a short sale listing and the previous owner listed the house as ~1600 on the previous MLS listing. The investor appears to only putting a new coat of paint (both inside and outside), new carpet and new kitchen counter top. Looking at the pictures of the previous listing, it appears no change to the structures. We asked the agent, he said the investor bought the house from the court house step and exempt from disclosures. The information on the mls is not guaranteed. It's up to the buyers to do their own investigation and decided. He's not allowed to give advise. How can I do the investigation on my own? Anyone know what is consider official record in terms of square footage / bed room / bathroom? We love the house and wants to buy it. Our concern is one day if we ever decided to sell, will it be a 2600sqft house or 1600 sqft house? Based on the comps, it's a good price if it were 2600sqft. It's way over price if it was indeed only 1600 sqft. The main house is about 1600 sqft. It appears the current listing included the attic space above the extra large detached garage / workshop while the previous listing and tax record did not. The attic space has a bathroom and finished with drywall and carpet on the floor. The agent said it could be used as a guest house or apartment. I asked the agent specifically whether or not the space above the garage was permitted as living space. However, the agent avoided the question and only said it is a "permitted structure". Should we find another agent? Who can we hire to help us on this? Thanks in advance for any comment. Thanks in advance for any comment.
Gold Trusted Contributor
Posts: 2,884
Registered: ‎02-17-2009

Re: House mls listing square footage does not match with tax record

You're asking these questions because you instinctively know that something's not right about this situation. Which agent are you referring to - the listing agent or your agent? You should have your own agent and he/she should be getting to the bottom of the square footage and permit issues for you - if he/she isn't then you need another agent. If there are indeed permits for the addition then you can go pull them and look at them yourself. If there are permits for the addition then the county would have or should be in the process of reassessing the property at the new square footage. There would be a paper trail of all of the above if, in fact, square footage was added.


You have to remember that the investor is interested in one thing and one thing only - his profit margin. No doubt he bought this property for cash, put a minimal amount of money into it, and wants maximum profit out of it. Be careful with this situation and get a really good agent. Lots of people on this forum have good agents they can refer you to.

Platinum Super Contributor
Posts: 11,327
Registered: ‎05-30-2009

Re: House mls listing square footage does not match with tax record

Those who have never lived in or rented out the home are exempt from disclosures.  In the case of renting out they only have to disclose what they know and they likely know little. The reason they are exempt is because they don't know.  If they do know something they have to disclose it.


Go to the local building department and ask to see the permits for the garage attict living space.  These permits should include plumbing and electrical.  Permits means that the area would be included in the square footage and an error has occured on the public records.  Public records can be wrong. 


If permits can't be located then it might be difficult to get a mortgage if the property doesn't appraise without the square footage. The lack of permits might be a negotiating point with the seller. Because they now know the structure or portions of the structure are not permitted they will have to disclose it. Be sure to get something from the building department that the garage and/or attic living space is not permitted to back yourself up.  Otherwise it doesn't work.