Home Selling in Birmingham>Question Details

Kristal Kraft, Real Estate Pro in Greenwood Village, CO

Can a finished basement be included in the square footage?

Asked by Kristal Kraft, Greenwood Village, CO Sat May 19, 2007

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Basements are not included in the square footage unless their are 3 walls above ground with daylight windows. Typically they should be finished as well. Most basements do not meet those standards.
5 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 19, 2007
Misspelled there. Their refers to a person.
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Maureen Fran…, Real Estate Pro in Birmingham, MI
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The only time we include basement square footage is when the square footage listed is above ground and has proper egress. Typically we would then indicate in the MLS remarks that basement square footage was included.
6 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 19, 2007
IN the Ann Arbor area, some agents list finished walk-out basements in the square footage. If so we have a symbol like INC Fin W/O
We have a remark place right after the s.f.________ Source__________
We can put in tax assesor, owner, appraisal, etc. That is where we can say inc fin LL
5 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 13, 2007
Our computer listing rules (MLS) do not allow us to do that in NE Ohio. I will be curious to see if it is allowed in Birmingham.
5 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 19, 2007
In the Charlotte NC area, we included heated finished basements in the total numbers (which totally throws off buyers from the regions others are mentioning!). Our basements here are mostly walk-outs, not cellars.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 20, 2007
In Denver, basements are a part of living space, many folks finish off their basements in a way that it's hard to tell a basement from the rest of the home. We are currently seeing very impressive theater rooms, perfect for nesting!
Web Reference: http://thedenver.blogs.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2007
In regards to Pete: I agree with most everything he says. There is just one thing that I have found not to be accurate (in Massachusetts anyway) With Cape Cod style homes, (and Cape Cod is in Massachusetts….:) if the attic is finished, it is considered habitable space and this space is added onto the total living area of the public record (so long as building permits for this renovation have been pulled and signed off on)
Web Reference: http://MelissaBMancini.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 25, 2007
Most of these answers are, at the least in part, wrong.

Inclusion of basement or below-grade space in the calculation of total square footage has little to do with whether the space is finished or has one or more walls above grade. For space to be included in any calculation of total square footage of living space, that space must comply with the building code requirements for habitable space.

A basement may be a finished walk-out type and still not meet the requirements for habitable space; generally, because the ceiling height is less than 7' 6" or, perhaps, because while the space has daylight windows those windows do not meet the requirements for natural light and ventilation or egress. In such a case, that space cannot be included in the square footage of the house. This also applies to space in a finished attic or the upper floor of a Cape Cod style house.

Generally speaking, the square footage listed in the tax record is accurate, unless the house has been recently remodeled and the records do not yet reflect the square footage of an addition. The reason these records are generally correct is that the square footage listed is (was) taken from the building plans for the house and thus, lists only that square footage considered habitable space.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 20, 2007
The basement square feet should only be included if it is a finished, walk out basement. That should be stated in the listing to give a clear picture of the size of the house. That is how all my listings are done.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 16, 2007
Our Multiple Listing Service in Grand Rapids, Mi has 2 methods of inputting square footage information. The first is and international standard referred to as ANSI. This data field only includes above grade square footage as observed from the street; so a finished basement would not be included. The other method of sq. ft. calculation the Total Finished Living Area (TFLA) and this would allow for the square footage in a finished basement to be considered. TFLA is what comes up when you search for homes in the GRAR database
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 13, 2007
We have been having this question a lot in central Ohio and the MLS has currently taken this on.

We have "Square Feet" which is what the auditor bases your assessment on. Usually this is above ground square footage.

It will now have another field "livable space" which includes all the homes living space -- that Florida Room or finished basement will be able to be included.

It will help in situations like what Meggie is referring to.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 5, 2007
Kristal, I am so glad you asked this question. I have included it as one of my "pet peeves", as a buyer. I do not object to the square footage of a finished basement being included in the total, as long as it is made absolutely clear, in the listing, that this is the case. Unfortunately, the way in which such circumstances appear in my area is as if they were separate spaces. In fact, some of the listings refer to the finished basement as the "first floor", regardless of the fact that only one wall (if any) is above ground. I would expect to see such a situation as a "one floor home with a finished basement".
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 5, 2007
In Salt Lake City, and surrounding areas of northern Utah, basements are typical and the square footage is included in the overall square footage of the home. Most basements in the area have plumbing for a bathroom included when the homes are being built and many times people finish their basements nicer than the rest of the home.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 21, 2007
In my county, San Mateo, CA, it would depend on if permits were obtained for the work and if the property was reassessed by the tax assessor's office.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 19, 2007
Yes... the new system will show the total square footage for buyers to be able to compare this with other properties... appraisers will only consider above grade regardless of walkout or not.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 7, 2014
Not really. If you are looking at listings online, they typically will only count the first and second floors.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 5, 2013
No. Not even if it is a walkout Carlo . Per Fannie Mae if any portion of a level of a home is below grade the entire level is not to be included in GLA.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 3, 2013
The basement level which is below grade is not counted. Only the lower level of a "high ranch" would be counted as square footage.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 14, 2013
A finished basement is never included in the square footage of a home if it is underground. As lower level of a "high ranch" is included.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 14, 2013
Only if it is a walkout. Otherwise it would need to be added to the (Additional Square footage section of the MLS profile sheet) which is how a buyer knows that it is finished square footage below grade.
Web Reference: http://www.CarloGobba.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Hello Kristal,

In Florida it is an issue with finishing a lanai. Here the rule of thumb (since ceiling heights and windows or wall are not an issue) is weather or not it is under heat and air. If hear and air have been installed then it is included, if not then it is mearly an enclosed lanai and not considered living space.

Best of Luck
Linda J Sears
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 26, 2007
The question was about included square footage, reported by the assessor, dataquick or city and the answer is just that. In my area of Pasadena, California, unless there's a permit for it, then I wouldn't include it with the total square footage. I have seen agents these days, throwing in the size of assessory structures, pool houses, guest quarters, etc. and totalling the measured, taped square footage and bumping down that dollar per square foot and the appraisers and city inspectors only want to see "permitted square footage". So for a basement or attic, there must be a 7+ foot ceiling and structural safe materials that went with a permit to count in the total square footage.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 13, 2007
For everyone out there that is adding basement sqft into the total sqft, please be advised that for appraisal purposes that even if one inch of that lower level is below grade it can't be counted in the sqft. I dont know how many times people have taken issue with us, telling us we made a mistake because the realtor told them it was a 1600 sqft home and we just had to be wrong. Meanwhile for financing purposes they have an 800 sqft home with one bedroom, these of course are the rules we are made to live by on our end.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 13, 2007
We usually define which SF is on the main levels and which is in the basement. Many times the basements are finished at a different level than the rest of the house so I think it should be clearly defined.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 13, 2007
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