Thursday, December 9, 2010

Measuring Square Footage

Measuring Square Footage

Homes in Northern Nevada are generally sold on the basis of Square Footage. In other areas emphasis is put on “rooms”, how many rooms are in a house. We feel that can be misleading as room sizes differ with the property. You can have different sized bedrooms or dining rooms offering dramatically different utility of the home. The total Square Footage under roof, however, gives one a good idea of the extent of the living area improvements. If there is enough minimum square footage the Buyers can look at the floor plan, how the home is laid out and how it will work for their intended use.

With square footage being so important, it is critical to get accurate measurements. This can be easier said than done on some properties where the property can be measured by the Assessor, Agent, Owner, Appraiser, or Buyer and you may end up with five different measurements. The difference isn’t always in the math, it can be a sag in a measuring tape, a fraction that is treated differently, a mistaken interior garage wall location determination, etc.

Understanding how a home is measured is critical. All measurements are from the outside of the house. When determining Square Footage the agents are seeking to establish the “Living Area”. Living area is space intended for human occupancy, a definition which helps to understand why there are minimum height requirements, requirements for a finished interior, that it be directly accessible from other living area, and that it be heated by a conventional, permanent heating system.

It sounds simple, but there will be discrepancies on how a tape measure is read, conversions from inches to decimals, how to treat a bay window (to be included it must have a floor and a height of 7 feet according to some standards), and bonus rooms over garage with sloped ceiling (slope can’t meet the floor, height at least 5 feet, at least half of room with minimum height of 7 feet), and second story of a two story open foyer (should be excluded from square footage – is good cubic footage which applies to utility and aesthtics, but not square footage.) Beware, too, of above and below grade value differentiation, separate guest quarters being included in the main dwelling Square Footage, and the “bonus” room language. Commonly called a bonus room because it isn’t a family or living room and is extra Square Footage of good utility, a bonus. It is not a true “bonus”, however, as in “something in addition to what’s expected”- you are paying for it.

Our Advice: It is important to understand this as in our area Square Footage is second only to Location as a contributing factor in making a home buying decision. Not only does Square Footage assist in the preliminary determination of a home meeting a Buyer’s space needs, it also provides an easy means to estimate a home’s value using comparable property sales. Make sure you understand where the Square Footage you are relying on came from. Many local agents use Assessor’s Office figures when listing properties. Those were measured by professional appraisers and are usually accurate unless the home has been modified. If the size is being determined from plans understand that the as-built product can differ from the plans. One should always measure for peace of mind.

Confused? Hire an appraiser to measure, not appraise, your home. Have some fun – measure your home and do the math. See how close you get. Good luck!

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs … Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, CDPE, SFR, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472.,

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