Size does matter! The square footage of a home is one of the most important factors in pricing a home and is critical input to an appraiser who is establishing the value of a home. Sometimes there is a great deal of confusion by sellers, buyers and agents as to what constitutes valid square footage from an appraiser’s perspective.
What Is The Source Of Square Footage Data For Listings?
The most common source of a home’s square footage is the data contained in Public Records. A countywide assessment undertaken from 1999 to 2000 established the square footage for exiting homes and the assessed value for taxing purposes. Homes built since the countywide assessment have their size and value recorded several months after the home is sold.
In the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) the square footage of a home can be sourced from one of three categories – Public Records which is indicated as an A next to the square footage number, from the seller which is indicated by a S adjacent to the square footage, and by the listing agent which is indicated by a L. The one thing I can comment on is caveat emptor – let the buyer beware – to the listings that have square footage that has been determined by the seller or listing agent. It is most likely an inflated number that includes interior space that will not be counted by an appraiser.
How Is Square Footage Determined?
The square footage of a home is determined by measuring the exterior of a home and then deducting any areas that are not living spaces, such as a 2 story entry foyer and attached garages.
So why is there so much confusion surrounding the determination of how big a home is? It looks like it would be an pretty easy number to determine right? Not so – let’s review some common misconceptions concerning a home’s square footage.
– Any living space that is below grade is not included in an home’s square footage. That’s right – for all of those who have spent thousands of dollars on a finished basement that space it is not going to be included as square footage by an appraiser. Now this is probably the most commonly debated area regarding a home’s living space, but “living space” is defined as an area above grade with finished walls, ceilings, and heat. There are homes whose basements are above grade due the topography of the lot, but in the vast majority of homes a basement fails the above grade test. Recently Fannie Mae changed the guidelines regarding below grade living space stipulating that 100% of the space must be above grade to be included in a home’s square footage calculation
Below grade space can add significant value to a home but will not count as what an appraisers refers to Gross Living Area (GLA) which is their term for interior square footage.
– Below grade space will typically be valued less than above grade living space
– Basement bedrooms do not qualify as a bedroom from an appraisers standpoint and should not be included in the count of the number of bedrooms when listing a home
– A common error in the MLS is the listing of the lower level of a Split Level style home as the basement. It is not a basement it is just the natural lower level of a Split Level design. A true basement is a Split Level would be a below grade basement below the Family Room.
– Interior space that does not have sufficient head room for an adult to stand up in – i.e. the second floor of a Cape Cod style home where the sloping roof lacks adequate head room to stand – is not included in the GLA calculation.
Wallingford PA Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086