What does square footage specified for house normally include ?

Asked by Sak, 08830 Sat Jan 31, 2009

does it include space occupied by walls, garage, basement, bathrooms ?

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8
Marc Paolella, Agent, Succasunna, NJ
Sat Jan 31, 2009
Hi Sak,

The proper way to measure square footage is from the outside walls. It should never include basement, attic, or garage, regardless of heating. Two story areas such as foyers and great rooms also need to be subtracted.

Good luck!

-Marc

Marc Paolella
Relocation Director
Member, Worldwide ERC
Licensed Realtor NJ
Licensed Appraiser NJ & NY
Century 21 Joe Tekula Realtors
Agent of the Year 2008
Owner: Sands Appraisal Service, Inc.
Phone (direct): (973) 584-4235
web: http://www.marcpaolella.com
1 vote
John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Mon Feb 2, 2009
Sak,

Realtors today will give you an estimate, Not "actual" square footage. The reason for that is we do not want to be sued for misrepresentation of any numbers.. and it has been done.

Typically a realtor will measure the rooms, Not including baths or the basement to give a rough estimate of square footage. If a builder gives me actual numbers, then I will go by the numbers that the builder presents as the square footage of the house.

But, in general I dont think you are going to get actual numbers unless you do it yourself.

John Sacktig
Broker / Manager
Orange Key Realty
Office: 732-863-6969
Cell: 732-213-1409
JSacktig@orangekeyrealty.com
0 votes
Marc Paolella, Agent, Succasunna, NJ
Sun Feb 1, 2009
Hi Sak,

Correct. You are completely on your own when it comes to square footage in this state. Public records are notoriously inaccurate, so do not depend on those, even if they are available. You pretty much have to size up each house yourself. Very few agents have a clue as to how to measure a house properly and report the correct square footage.

-Marc

Marc Paolella
Relocation Director
Member, Worldwide ERC
Licensed Realtor NJ
Licensed Appraiser NJ & NY
Century 21 Joe Tekula Realtors
Agent of the Year 2008
Owner: Sands Appraisal Service, Inc.
Phone (direct): (973) 584-4235
web: http://www.marcpaolella.com
0 votes
Sak, Both Buyer And Seller, 08830
Sun Feb 1, 2009
thanks everybody for great and useful answers.

i don't know much about florida but in texas I have seen almost every listing specifies square footage and rate/sqft etc.
so i guess they may have commonly accepted agreement to inlclude space equipped for HVAC which is reflected in answers of realtors from texas and florida.
I think it's great to have such standard so that buyers can quickly compare two houses for size and price from data specified in listing.

In new jersey on the other hand there seems to be no commonly agreed way to specify square footage.
Hence I guess we can't use this figure in new jersey reliably.
0 votes
Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Sun Feb 1, 2009
Hi Sak, great answers so far - all I will add is that you can see why there can be such confusion between what a consumer/buyer it thinking and what may be presented. Generally a buyer will be looking at the square footage as a reflection of actual living space - and will interpret room dimensions that way as well. I recently ran into a situation - new construction with small bedrooms - and the buyer was counting on every reported foot of the dimensions to fit furniture only to find that a good foot to foot and a half was taken up by depth dimension of the closet.

William is quite right, you won't find square footage on many listings in the state of NJ - new construction yes, but others rarely.

Thanks for asking this questions and prompting this interesting and information discussion!

Best,
Jeannie Feenick
Search and connect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference:  http://www.feenick.com
0 votes
William Leigh…, , New Jersey
Sun Feb 1, 2009
Sak: Everything, nothing and anything! In most areas you will note that the field is left blank. Realtors generally do not calculate square footage. There is also the question of value of some square footage. Cathedral ceilings are fine but how much do they add? Does an 10-foot wide hall add utility over an 8-foot wide hall? The principal source of square footage for Realtors is found in the public record but many municipalities do not report square footage of the buildings. Of course, we have NO idea how it is calculated. If the builder's square footage on his advertisement or in brochures is available, that may be used as well. Again, there is no standard and the number can be anything the builder cares to use as his base.

Appraisers may be required to use a formula for purposes of a mortgage. This information is not generally available to the Realtor at the time down the road when the property is sold again. At least one REO company asks for square footage of their agents but then asks for the source of the "estimate."

What Realtors generally do, although some leave the fields blank, especially in REO deals, is to measure the rooms that are stated on the MLS form. You will see that the figures do not include hallways or "mud rooms, etc.." On the other hand, sometimes you will see a "family room" listed with dimensions, only to find out it's in a basement with no windows. Some attics are heated and have a closet, especially in 1920's semi detached construction. Some are all set up but have no heat. You will find that the bedroom count varies from 3 to 4, depending on no more than whim.

Finally, raised ranchers with "English" windows, usually double sash but shorter than standard, have a whole floor of rooms, often with dimensions listed. Half the bedrooms are down there. Since the era of "raised ranches" seems to be over, I’m not sure if the "English" windows meet the newest codes for egress that were formulated so that a fireman, equipped with an Air Pack, can get into and out of the room. Most of these are grandfathered but I’ll bet you that today you might have a hard time getting permits from the building department to add such a room with undersized windows.

Bottom line: Total house square footage is avoided by Realtors, who generally only use the sources discussed above and who refrain from coming up with their own interpretation. There is no law or standards that have been generally promulgated.
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sat Jan 31, 2009
Sak,

Square footage = space equipped fro HVAC

Total square footage= space equipped for HVAC+garage+porch+other areas w/o HVAC
0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Sat Jan 31, 2009
GREAT QUESTION: sq. ft of a home any space include via HVAC system, garage is not. Many realtors and sellers make a mistake, calculating sq. ft of home, refer tax rolls unless there has been room additions.
Web Reference:  http://www.lynn911.com
0 votes
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