As homebuyers become more sophisticated and seek more and more access to pertinent information, they often ask for a homes "square footage." The assumption is that this measurement reveals the amount of "living space" in the home. But what does this measurement of "square footage" really tell us?
It depends. As there is no national or state standard by which "square footage" is measured, the answer is as varied as the community in which you live. The American Institute of Architects says living space includes "all those spaces used for habitation" and is measured "from the outside of exterior walls." The National Homebuilders Association says likewise that "unless otherwise required by local codes," almost every locale "measures outside to outside dimensions." In the Daytona Beach Area Association of REALTORS®' Multiple Listing Service, we offer both a "living area" and a "total area" field for square footage numbers. The "living area" field reflects the dimensions of the heated areas of the house, while total area includes amenities such as screened-in porches.
These measurements are helpful to both homebuyers and home sellers. First, square footage often helps REALTORS® and home sellers determine the value of property by creating a standard of community comparison. Given adjustments for closing dates, condition of the home, location, amenities, etc., homes with similar square footage in the same community should be similarly priced.
At the same time, square footage measurements help REALTORS® and homebuyers determine a reasonable offer for a property.
If you are given square footage measurements for a home you are selling or for a home you are considering to purchase, be sure to find out the source of that measurement and what standard was used. The most frequently used source for existing homes is the public tax records available from the county in which the property is located.
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