Square footage is important in home sales and a key number for helping to set a home’s price. But what happens when the square footage listed doesn’t match up to the appraisal? It’s not uncommon, but it can lead to a lot of questions and possible re-negotiations.
Square footage is calculated when you measure how much floor space is in a home. Often times, the difference in square footage is over calculations of what constitutes official “living space” versus the total space of the house. For example, is the garage or unfinished basement included?
Real estate professionals may use calculations based on the living space in the home, or essentially, areas of a home that can be heated or cooled, realtor.com® explains.
Appraisers, however, may use a different measurement to evaluate the total square footage of the home, possibly even including the unheated basement, attic, or nonliving spaces.
The appraiser’s number is usually what gets recorded by the local municipality when the home is built.
But differences in square footage also may occur when home additions are added over time.
“This usually happens when someone decides to enclose a patio, finish a garage, or even add on to the existing structure to increase the amount of interior living area without first obtaining the proper permits,” RJ Winberg, a real estate professional from Orange County, Calif., told realtor.com®. Without permits, the local municipality won’t know extra square footage was added.
Each time an appraiser visits a house they will take new measurements of the property to ensure there is no square footage discrepancy. If the numbers don’t align, sellers may field questions about it and could even find themselves back at the negotiating table with buyers—usually if square footage is lower than what was presented. Or sellers may miss out on getting more for their home if the square footage for their home is actually higher than what was listed on the MLS.