June 23, 2014

Square footage is a moving target, professionals say

How big is that house, really?

Square footage is a moving target, professionals say

A home’s square footage is a number easily misrepresented, especially when determining ever-ambiguous "liveable space." Measurements can be taken in numerous ways, and what to include in those measurements — garages, basements or porches — is often unclear.

"There are customs … that vary from community to community," Dreyfus said. "There’s no universal way of arriving at that number."

In the Real Bay Area, we are all locavores. As a result we deeply respect the right of local communities to make the right decisions on things.

For example: If you put an extra mattress in a garage in Redwood City, of course that should be counted as part of the sqft! But that would never be acceptable in, say, a far-away land like Atherton.

But fear not… realtors are here to help!

Article 12 of the Code states, "Realtors shall be honest and truthful in their real-estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations."

Violating any part of the Code could mean expulsion from the organization or fines.

As well know, Realtors are the paragon of truth telling. I, for one, would welcome our Realtor overlords… for they would definitely be fair and just. And nothing is more fair and just than this:

"If you put furniture in it, it’s livable space," said Harrison, noting that common sense and a required training process can help clarify the term for Realtors and real-estate agents who post on the site.

Remember my mattress in the garage example? Even if the mattress is leaning against the wall, it will count (maybe you’re a former astronaut relocating to Redwood City – climate best by government test after all.)

But according to Harrison, misrepresentation in real estate doesn’t happen often.

"Very rarely does anyone go in and put in a ficticious square-footage number," he said.

Also, since sellers are almost on the verge of taking the next step by requiring bids being placed without even seeing the house, why bother worrying?

After all… housing prices can only go up, so what’s a few sqft.

How would you measure a home?

Comments (11) -- Posted by: burbed @ 2:24 am

11 Responses to “Square footage is a moving target, professionals say”

  1. T Man Says:

    I would measure it purely by upside potential. If the value of the house will skyrocket, measure it based on that.

  2. Petsmart groomer Says:

    Any (large) value is truthful as long as listing ends with “Buyer to verify” valediction.

  3. For girl Says:

    In San Mateo county, you can get your official sq ft at smcare.org.
    Used to be that realtors couldn’t advertises over that. Ethically, cough cough. That was around the time spelling was required.

  4. For girl Says:

    Oh, and sm property assessor would love to know “Harrison” true sq foot.
    So would code entorcement.

  5. Acon Undrum Says:

    Measure total volume instead of sqft.

  6. Dewane Says:

    I’ve seen the opposite, where rooms that weren’t permitted didn’t count and the house sqft was actually larger. Still a newbie so question for y’all: How concerned should you be about buying a house like this (‘not at all’, according to the Realtor(tm)).

  7. Mole Man Says:


  8. steve Says:

    pretty amazing recent sale. 6 days from listing to completely closed


    Jun 26, 2014 Sold (MLS) (Sold) $4,980,000
    Jun 24, 2014 Pending (Pending (Do Not Show))
    Jun 20, 2014 Listed (Active) $4,730,000

    there are still many all cash offer out there, but all cash and “close in 1 day” is impressive

    also impressive: the flip. purchased 1 year ago, $2.5M for the 1/4 acre lot (and unwanted house). 12 months later, brand new house and tidy profit.

  9. Wave9x Says:

    I had one realtor tell me that if the ceiling is a certain height, you can multiply the sqft by two in that room because theoretically you could add a floor above it to create living space. That’s why the house’s sqft was listed higher than the county assessor. How preposterous is that?

    Another gem was a single story flat in SF that had sqft listed that was physically impossible to achieve, as it was higher than the lot size for the building. And no, the ceilings weren’t high enough to multiply by two either.

  10. Formgirl2011 Says:

    Your downside in buying a house w unwarranted footage is that 1)code enforcement could come out and make you bring it to code and 2)county oils charge you more property tax.

    1) only gets invoked when neighbors call code enforcement. Meaning that if u have unwarranted sq footage, you can call the city on yourself to make it legal. Or don’t to ppl with multiple vehicles or have loud parties or otherwise attract attention. 2) calling on yourself does not result in huge property tax increase normally.
    Tl;dr if you are renting any of your property openly come clean. Otherwise do nothing to attract attention .

    To dude who said you could put another floor in your unit easily is at least a quarter mil full of s. First you cannot get away with this without permits. Second you have to be to fire code. Sprinklers. Water . Electrical. At least.

    Some realtor told you that? How ethical .

  11. Real Estater Says:

    >>pretty amazing recent sale. 6 days from listing to completely closed

    It’s a reasonable choice for buyers in this bracket. You cannot find this kind of house in Palo Alto or Atherton for the price.

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