Because square footage is often used as a basic statistic to define a property, home buyers should be aware that there may be some discrepancies at times. Many are surprised when they find out that not everyone measures square footage the same way.
This is partly about the difference between jobs, experts say. For example, when local governments are looking at square footage for tax purposes, they generally include livable, heated space, according to The Wall Street Journal. This typically means no garages, porches, attics or basements, but varies between localities.
When advertising a home, a real estate agent or home seller might include those spaces. There may also be an error in someone’s records, or an addition that is not accounted for. In the last case, prospective residents should ensure any additions are properly permitted before buying a home, since they could otherwise end up paying for someone else’s building code violation.
Assuming no mistakes are made, there are still other possibilities. Appraisers, when estimating square footage, may or may not count a finished basement depending on its condition compared to the rest of the home. Whether it counts may depend on how low or high it is situated. Additionally, Realty Times notes they may not subtract the space taken up by high ceilings from a second story, since that is often considered a desirable design and their job is to calculate value.
Beyond that, estimates may be made using different tools. Some professionals may use a laser device while others prefer a tape measure. In some cases, particularly when a space has an irregular shape, someone might estimate by looking.
Choosing a home
Because of all these factors, buyers should not concern themselves too closely with the precise square footage. Any discrepancies may be the result of different information sources, methods of estimating, or a clerical error omitting home additions.
Typically, the amount of space in a given room will be important to determine where and how furniture, appliances and other items fit, but experts recommend not becoming too concerned with the square footage as a number. Some sellers or their agents may list the source of the property’s square footage, such as local tax records or an appraisal, which may give the buyers’ real estate agent a clearer idea of what the number means.
Beyond that, buyers are generally advised to look at the space for themselves and evaluate it based on their own experience and needs, rather than numbers. Buyers should also keep this in mind when comparing different properties to each other or a past residence.
Extract: Because square footage is often used as a basic statistic to define a property, home buyers should be aware that there may be some discrepancies at times. Not everyone measures square footage the same way.