Home Buying in Hudson>Question Details

joe, Home Buyer in Hudson, MA

Is square footage advertised on MLS calculated differently for rentals than homes for sale?

Asked by joe, Hudson, MA Mon Dec 12, 2011

The home we are interested in doing a lease to purchase is listed at 3800 square feet in some MLS, but when it was for sale, it was listed at 2,790 in some sites and 3,000 in others? Is there a difference? Is the rental allowing to include the approximate square footage of finished basement in its calcuations? Confusing to say the leasts.

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The rental square footage should be the same as a sale. Square footage should be above grade living area and should be calculated by the foundation size. if you have a 26x40 foundation and it is one level than the square footage should be 1040 square feet if it is two levels it would be 2080 square feet.

If square footage is important to you do your own calculations. Many town assessors records will have fairly accurate foundation measurements.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011
Alot of agents lie about the square footage for rentals because there is less of risk. Other times they just estimate, at least in the New York market.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
Joe it is confusing not only for you but for us as agents as well.

Some agents use the towns assessment records - some use those records and use the total area, others use the living area

Basements are not suppose to be counted unless it is disclosed in the listing information

Other agents use "measured" as the sq ft - which may be different than actual

Some use "provided by owner"

So as you can see you are not alone - but don't get caught up in sq ft. Best to view what is available in the market, see what fits your life style, determine if its a fair value based on the comparisons you have seen.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
When you see things like this, I'd call the listing broker directly and ask the question. They will have the best info. Sites that only show listings are more interested in getting you to click around and ask questions so their activity and content increases. Actual real estate pros make their living from completing transactions - not from advertising.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 16, 2011
The living area is inputted into the MLS at the discretion of the listing agent. The agents are supposed to disclose the source of their data and note if the living area calculation includes any unusual space like a basement, finished attic, etc...

For example check out the listing for 6 West Ave in Hudson (see link below). If you scroll down the page a bit you can see the following data fields under the section labeled "Property Info".

Approximate Living Area: 1872 sq.ft.
Price Per Square Foot: $218
Living Area Includes Basement:
Living Area Source: Public Record

Unfortunately a lot of real estate websites don't display all of the MLS fields the way Territory.com does and as a buyer this can cause confusion. The variation you noted in your question was probably related to a change in agent where the new agent may have been a little more "creative" when it came to presenting the property to the public.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 15, 2011
Thank you Christine - the answer I was looking for, as usual, Kevin from Tewksbury provided. We are in the process of a mess with a home we were about to purchase and now we have to lease to buy. The SELLERS agent has an extremely lax habit of not doing her calculations appropriately, listing inconsistent information, not updating websites or the signs on the property, not checking in on the property, not keeping it clean, etc. At the rate this is going, there is a potential for repercussion with MLS and other recourses to ensure that come the day we go to resell the property - IF IN EFFECT THE DEAL EVER GOES THROUGH, the potential buyer looking for history and information on the account (electrons are forever), can find consistent and accurate information. Upon interviewing numerous agents we have discovered that practices such as the ones followed in this transaction are unethical and frowned upon by the community at large. Very few agents have come to the defense. In the meantime, we need to provide our insurance company the appropriate square footage and we will follow Kevin's guidelines and also work with the sellers and our broker.

Thank you all for your responses!!!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011
Hi Joe,
There is no difference in sqaure footage calculations on a sale vs rental. Generally, living area should be finshed, heated space above grade. Where it can be confusing sometimes, is listing agents will sometimes include the finished basement. When this is done, they should be disclosing that information, but sometimes they dont. You can also look at the towns property card however, unfortunately, they are not always accurate either.
Because of the inconsistancies, sqaure footage should be looked as a starting point. Additionally, while two homes may have the same living area, the layout may cause the home to haved a different feel. Size of closets, hallways, number of rooms all will contribute to making a home feel bigger or smaller.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011
Agents really don't pay as much attention to detail with rentals. Right or wrong that is probably the answer you are looking for.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011

Likey your best resource for accurate square footage information is by referring to the local tax records. This information should be accurate.

There can be two square footage numbers associated with a property. One consisting of the number of square feet being heated while the second is the total number of square feet that normally includes garage, porch, and storage areas that are unheated. This may be the source of some of the confusion associated with your subject property.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011

No, there should be no difference in the calculation in the square footage for a sale or a rental. They should be the same.

What is the address? I can look up the legal square footage for you.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011
It really should be the same everywhere. If you want to know the exact number look it up in public records for that town. Most towns have field cards online.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011
Hello Joe, unless there have been any additions to or subtractions from the property there should be one legitimate measurement. With regard to square footage, measure it yourself or better yet have the selling agent measure with you there watching and recording. For tax purposes, municipalities only count livable, heated space. Closets and hallways are included, but garages, attics, unfinished bonus rooms, and sun porches aren't. Nor, usually, are basements—though some localities include walk-out basements that are finished to the standard of the rest of the house. Because tax records aren't infallible, listing agents are supposed to measure the property themselves. But many just copy the information from tax records, and rely on boilerplate language in listing sheets and contracts that the "information is reliable but not guaranteed." Some also include space that a tax appraiser wouldn't, like a lavishly finished below-ground basement, and then use language that protects them from claims of deception, like "square footage on three levels." So before deciding how to proceed it's important to find out if the agent measured the house, what was measured and how it was done.
Web Reference: http://www.clovelake.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011
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