Reasons Why Square Footages Differ Between Listing and Appraisal

When you are doing your searches for homes to buy the number or bedrooms and bathrooms are always of most interest. After considering the home’s amenities it is most common to look at the square footage to get a sense of just how large and accommodating it is. However, if you proceed to get an accepted offer and it comes time to appraise it, you may be shocked to find out that there is a discrepancy in square footage totals. Here are some details on why this is.

Why square footage differs

More often than not the difference in totals comes down to “living space” versus the total space of the home. Oftentimes a homeowner will calculate square footage based on all of the rooms in the home that are regularly used and are heated/cooled. The appraiser may evaluate the total square footage including any non heated/cooled areas such as a storage area. Typically the overall total number is what is recorded with the town or city and is used for tax purposes.

How additions are calculated

In most cases the square footage numbers that are used when a home is listed are pulled from tax records. However, it can be that homes have converted carports or patios into living areas and permitting was skipped. This is why appraisers will always do their own measurements to ensure accuracy of the home today. 

What you should do it there are discrepancies

If you come across differences, don’t be afraid to raise questions. If you are a buyer, this could affect the sale price. You may have the opportunity to open up a negotiation especially if numbers are way off. If you are a seller and there is some square footage that hasn’t been appraised you may wish to contact the city or town to update their records. Just note that if the added area was due to any additions that didn’t pull a permit, you may be on the hook for some additional expenses. In the end if the additional square footage is substantial then it may just be worth it!