Today’s house hunters have at their command a wealth of information by which to compare the homes currently available on the listings— numbers that enable the kind of apple-to-apple comparisons that bring a smile to the faces of hard-headed realists who value hard data. Right?
Sort of. If you’re one of those realist types who value the precision of hard numbers, Realtor® Magazine provided an article bound to provoke a spate of teeth-grinding. In fact, why don’t you just skip reading any further—you’ll probably be happier reading the morning’s stock market quotes or last night’s baseball statistics.
Listing Square Footage Inaccuracies
The article in question, “Handle Square Footage Issues,” was actually aimed at us real estate professionals. It dealt with imprecision in what people might assume is one listing entry not subject to opinion: the home’s square footage. It turns out that it depends on what’s being measured. It can be what is defined as “official living space,” or it could be “the total space” of the house. As a result, it can happen that the square footage of a listing can lead to questions and possible re-negotiations. Since the listed square footage number doesn’t always match up to the appraisal’s, it prompts RM’s speculation, “what happens then?”
Be Sure to Ask Questions
The answer to that varies, but the reasons why otherwise-diligently calculated figures can differ are many, resulting in a number you might call a bit ‘squishy.’ If, for instance, a previous owner has enclosed a patio or finished a garage without obtaining a proper permit, disparities can result. Too, anyone who has ever measured the square footage of an irregularly shaped area knows how challenging the calculation can be. Additionally, many lenders ask to see only “gross living area” used in the calculation they go with—that usually includes only areas that are heated or cooled, which may not have been the basis used elsewhere.
Since appraisers take their own measurements, discrepancies can crop up. Then, if the square footage number is lower than the one shown on the listing, “sellers could even find themselves back at the negotiating table with buyers.” It’s an important part of a good service to ensure that clients, be they buyers or sellers, are properly represented throughout the process—and that occasional hiccups don’t unnecessarily derail a transaction that’s clearly in the interest of both parties.