Accurate sq ft numbers. Something screwy with the listing

Asked by Tom, Philadelphia, PA Wed Nov 21, 2007

I looked at a house that claimed to be 2400 interior sq ft. The listing details each room, and they add up to only 1405. The county tax records indicate only 1648 sq ft. The floorplan measurements and room dimensions jive, so it seems as though they are over estimating by 752 sq ft, or nearly 50%.

Should I offer them 50% less than asking?

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Debbie Cromer, , Charleston, SC
Wed Nov 21, 2007
Go out and measure it. That is the only way to know the true sq. ft. You can do it yourself, have your realtor do it, or have an appraiser do it. An appraiser will give you the most accurate. Tax records give you the least reliable.
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Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Wed Nov 21, 2007
I suggest that you and your agent (preferably a Realtor that represents you) tour some more homes in both sizes. After you (and your agent ) have been in some competing homes you (and especially your agent ) should be able to rely on your own spatial senses to guide you as to whether the home is grossly over estimated or "within range.

A 20% difference might not be enough for the senses in an untrained person to notice the difference because of room shapes, colors, furniture, mirrors, hallways and dead spaces.

A 50% difference should be discernible to even a new agent or a first time buyer.

Even if the home really is as big as they say, the lower reported squasre footage at county warrants further investigation . Like Vito said could be a finished basement, or a garrage conversion or an addition done without permits.

There was once a builder of new homes in my city who gave numbers as names to his offerings. The numbers had nothing to do with the square footage, but the county recorded the model numbers as square footage anyway.
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Lorie Gould, Agent, Duluth, GA
Wed Nov 21, 2007
First and foremost, look at what properties sold for price per square foot that are within the same neighborhood or area. Take that price per square foot and multiply it times the square footage of the home in question. This will help guide you to this homes value. How the square footage is utilized also makes a difference in value. Two homes of equal square footage but one is a four bedroom and the other a three are not the same value. The four bedroom will be worth more. Your agent should be researching the value of the home in question based off properties that have sold.

If your market is slowing like Atlanta, you might want to consider offering less than the last sold. This will help protect your investment.
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David Gierli…, Agent, Depew, NY
Wed Nov 21, 2007
It may be some rooms are being counted that are not on the tax records, such as a finished attic or basement. They may or may not be able to be counted as living space depending on how they are set up. Many time the the room sizes are estimated so this could also result in different numbers, Aslo foyers hallways, and closet space would probavly be included in the toatl sq ft # but not accounted for. With all this said 750 sq ft is a big difference. Call the listing agent and ask how they came up with that #
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Vito Boscaino, Agent, Charleston, SC
Wed Nov 21, 2007
There are several reasons why the information regarding square footage could be incorrect. Sometimes a home seller thinks that if they finished their basement, they can add that to their total square footage. Split level home are tricky as well. I would hope that your agent will straighten all the information out for you and give you information on comparable homes in the neighborhood so that you can make an informed decision whether to make an offer on the property. Good Luck!
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