Measuring the square footage of a house can sometimes be a mystery. Ask the seller how many square feet and you may get one answer. Ask the assessor how big, a second answer. Ask the appraiser and you may get even a different answer. Ask two appraisers and get two different answers.
Builders will often include square footage such as stairwells and utility closets in the living area. Assessors will often measure only the exterior perimeter of a building. Both may be incorrect when measuring for a residential appraisal.
How is square footage measured for appraisals? The unfortunate truth is that it depends on who’s measuring. The correct method for calculating the square footage of a home is determined by using the guidelines in ANSI standard Z765.
Many appraisers mistakenly round their measurements to the nearest foot. It makes the math easier, but it is improper procedure for an appraisal. Not all houses perfect squares. For houses with additions or cutouts, rounding to the nearest foot will impact the measurement. All dimensions of the house should be measured to the nearest inch or tenth of a foot; the final square footage is then reported to the nearest whole square foot.
ANSI Z765 also suggests measuring and multiplying the home’s exterior dimensions, then subtracting unfinished space, rooms that are not usable year-round, and rooms with a sloping ceiling that meet certain criteria.
Any inconsistencies to the measurement such as inability to access the property or utilizing builder plans should be noted on the appraisal.
Why is it important? Because a home’s value can often be influenced by how many square feet of living space is available. Let’s assume that properties in a given area sell on average for $250 per square foot. Adding or removing 100 square feet from a measurement can change the value by $25,000.
After viewing several appraisals on a single property it becomes clearer why the appraisal can often result in different numbers. Most often agents that run into issues with an appraisal find that it is because the appraiser used different comparable sales. But it may also be important to verify the square footage that the appraiser is using to value the property. It may make a difference.
Joe Domino is a Realtor® serving the Phoenix & Scottsdale metro area. You can find more great information by visiting his website at www.Scottsdale-AZHomes.com.