When I say, “Beware the Square Foot Trap”, I am trying to let you know that the way Real Estate agents handle square feet is important for knowing exactly the size of home you are looking at.
Many people don’t understand that only the above grade square footage of a home is listed on the MLS listing. This is important because the listing could state it is a 4 bedroom home, for example, but two of the bedrooms are below grade, that is, in the basement. This could change the amount of living space there is upstairs (above grade), and you may be thinking you are looking at a bigger house or have some concerns with appraisals when the square footage isn’t clear.
The reason that total square footage isn’t used is because when you add in basement space, too much can vary and it won’t give you a good idea of the size of the home. For example, they could say it is a 2000 square foot home, but half of it is below grade in a semi-finished basement. Some identically modeled homes could feature a fully completed basement space while others won’t. This can cause the properties to be valued differently.
Square footage can become a particularly tricky issue when it comes to split or multi level homes. It is important to talk to a professional Realtor in order to determine your square footage and how that may impact your future refinancing and/or resell value.
Because square footage is the second most important factor in a home’s value, it is important to understand it. (The most important factor is location.) Your Realtor should understand how square footage calculations and location for the homes you are being shown affect the value.
Understanding Finished Above Grade Square Footage
The entire level must be above grade and finished in order to be calculated for this count, which becomes the official MLS listing square footage number. It is a universal measurement that Realtors and Assessors will use, so it being accurate is critical. All four walls of the space must be above ground level and the ceilings must be a minimum of 5 foot tall.
Understanding Finished Below Grade Square Footage
On split level homes and homes with partial finished basement exposure, are considered finished below grade square footage. Typically this type of footage is valued less than above grade footage. A space is considered finished if it includes a finished ceiling, floor and walls, and is heated. Painted concrete doesn’t count as a finished floor.
Total Square Footage
Square footage is the size of the area or floor space in real estate property. It can be calculated by multiplying the width by the length of the space measurements. The square footage is valuable in determining value in order to compare similar properties and to assist in purchasing products such as flooring or even furnaces.
Total square footage is the total of above grade, below grade and unfinished square footage. If you want to know how to measure square footage, call and I can help you determine what it is.