Is an "unfinished basement" considered part of the home's square footage ?

Asked by Edwin Raynor, Drexel Hill, PA Mon Oct 25, 2010

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Maureen Inge…, Agent, Media, PA
Tue Oct 26, 2010
Hello, Mr Raynor. I actually called an appraiser today that I have known for years to verify what I thought I knew, before i answered your question. I wanted to check from the authority for you. He concurred that a basement, finished or not , is not included in the square footage of the home. Below ground level is not part of the square footage. In reality, most basements were never constructed to be finished. They were only meant to hold up the rest of the house . This is especially true in Drexel Hill, where my team and I do much of our business. Even a walk out basement, where there are no windows on the other three walls, or the windows are below ground should not be included. In new construction, many homes are now built at grade and the walk out in level with the yard space. Then the measurements could be included. I hope this helps. Please email me at or call me at 610-574-6203 if you wish to discuss this further. Thanks for the great question!
1 vote
Kevin Olson,…, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Mon Oct 25, 2010
This varies from county to county when it comes to the county assessor's files. In some areas when a basement is a walkout, the sq ft is counted. This will depend on what is accepted practice in your given area, so I would call both a local Realtor and the county assessor to find out. Generally appraisers will not count the basement into sq ft.
1 vote
Alan Openshaw, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Southampton, PA
Mon Oct 25, 2010
Hello Edwin,

Even if the basement were finished it will not be included as square footage by an appraiser or by the county records. The reason being is that below ground level inprovements do not count towards GLA (gross living area)Walk out basements are another issue.
However, you have touched upon a very disturbing issue in valuing real Estate.
You have a 2000 sq ft house as did the next door neighbor and both had 400 sq ft of finished basement.
The appraiser will look at the MLS records AND because the neighbor's Realtor included the basement in the square footage, the appraiser will now state that your property is worth less because it is 400 sq ft smaller when in fact they are identical. This happens all the time.

Alan Openshaw
Cornerstone Lending Inc
Southampton Pa 18966
215 953 0800
cell 267 992 7276
1 vote
Erica Ramus,…, Agent, Pottsville, PA
Wed Oct 27, 2010
No it is not. In calculating square footage we use only the finished area above ground level. We do not use any square footage below ground.
0 votes
Jeremy Drobe…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Kalamazoo, MI
Wed Oct 27, 2010
Yes, of course it is. all Parts of the home add to the total square footage. HOWEVER, it is unfinished square footage and it will be listed as such. In other words it will add little to no value to your home. Even if it was finished you would get more "value", but from a price per square foot stand point it doesn't count like the above grade (above ground) square footage does. One more thing to note, even if it's a walkout, with windows and everything. It's still below grade and doesn't add to the value like above grade square footage does.
0 votes
Dee Campbell, , Charles County, MD
Wed Oct 27, 2010
No, it is not. A finished walk out basement will be an extra bonus:)

Good luck.
0 votes
Michele Buck, Agent, Drexel Hill, PA
Mon Oct 25, 2010
Unfinished or even finished basements are not generally considered part of a home's square footage in an asppraiser's viewpoint.
0 votes
Okan Apaydin, , Devon, PA
Mon Oct 25, 2010
Definite NO, unless a house is bought by a cave dveller.
0 votes
Christine Mc…, Agent, Valparaiso, IN
Mon Oct 25, 2010
A basement is not considered part of the home's total square footage. We do post an unfinished total square footage amount. IF the basement can be finished and considered living space then I would advertise it as such.

0 votes
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