A house that sounds roomy and spacious online may actually have 800 of its square feet contained in a four-foot-tall dirt-floor basement. What’s up with that? In Washington DC, clients are often confused at the square footage discrepancy between what’s listed and what they see on tour, and colleagues in other markets hear similar things.
Why the conflicting information? Well, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines on how to calculate a home’s square footage are considered the standard, but there are no official laws that govern this process. In addition, some Multiple Listing Services (MLS) report all finished and unfinished square footage of a house as a single number, adding to the confusion. Since the rules aren’t standard, some listing agents just post their best guess on a home’s square footage. As a result, buyers and their agents often have to investigate.
If you love a home, does it matter if the 2,000 square foot charmer turns out to be officially 1,600 sq ft in length? Since square footage is used to determine a home’s market value, it can matter a lot. When it comes time for you to sell, 400 fewer feet in measurement can impact the price you’ll get, particularly in a buyer’s market. Which is why we created this guide on how to calculate square footage of a house.
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