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How Do Realtors Calculate Square Footage?

How Do Realtors Calculate Square Footage? | Today I'm Home
Kevin Sagers

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Kevin Sagers

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October 12, 2021

Square footage is one of the most important aspects of property pricing. So, how do realtors calculate square footage? This guide has the answers.

To calculate the square footage of a house on sale, a realtor will first measure the exterior of the house using a tape measure. They will then multiply this figure by the number of floors in the house. From there, they will deduct the square footage of the excluded areas.

In this guide, you will learn more about the importance of calculating the square footage of a house, the areas that are included when measuring the square footage, as well as the areas that are excluded. You will also learn how realtors calculate square footage. And by the time you finish reading this guide, you will have all the information related to calculating the square footage of a house.

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Why is Calculating the Square Footage of a House Important?

So, why should you bother measuring square footage? Well, there are several reasons that may push you to calculate your home’s square footage.

First, if you are planning to sell your home without involving a realtor, you will first need to determine its square footage. After all, square footage is one of the most important factors that determine the price of a home.

So, calculating your home’s square footage and comparing it with similar properties in the area will help you to figure out its asking price.

And in case you decide to hire a realtor, they will calculate your home’s square footage and compare it with similar properties or comps. At the same time, if you are interested in buying a certain home, confirming its dimensions will help you to determine whether it’s priced correctly.

For instance, a seller may claim that a certain house has 2,000 square feet. And in the real sense, it may only have 1,700 feet. So, without confirming its dimensions, you will be overpaying for $300 square feet.

Second, square footage is also vital when it comes to property taxes. Calculating your home’s square footage will help you to figure out its exact dimensions. And with the exact dimensions, you will avoid overpaying your taxes.

So, if you think the local authorities have listed a higher figure than the right one, you can request them to undertake a new assessment.

Third, if you are planning to undertake an addition or renovation on a particular part of your house, you will be required to submit the plans to your city to get the permit.

What Is Included When Calculating Square Footage

As you can see, determining the actual square footage of a certain house will come in handy in several situations.

So, what is usually included when calculating the square footage? General, all spaces that share heating and cooling as the main home, are located above ground and conform to its overall architectural standards will feature in the total square footage. Here are the parts of a house that are included when measuring the square footage:

Living Spaces

Most living spaces in a house will be factored in when measuring the square footage. And this will include living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and kitchen. Living spaces usually take up the lion’s share of a home’s square footage.

Stairways

As much as stairways are not livable spaces, they are also included when measuring a home’s square footage.

The reasoning behind this is that they are part of your home’s cooled and heated main living area. Therefore, they will be calculated as part of the living spaces.

Closets

Closets are counted as part of a home’s main living area. Therefore, the space they consume will also be added to the total square footage of the house.

However, you should note that closes located in excluded areas like basements and garages will not feature in the house’s total square footage.

Enclosed Porches

Enclosed porches may be included in the total square footage or not, depending on various situations.

If they are enclosed on all four sides, have a roof and they are heating via the same system serving the living area of the house, then they will be included. If they fail to meet any of these requirements, they will be excluded.

Finished Attic Space

Just like porches, attic spaces also need to meet certain requirements to be included in the square footage.

First, they should have a minimum clearance of seven feet. Second, they should be heated via the same system serving the main living area of the house.

And third, their finished space should feature similar architectural standards and general quality as the rest of the house.

It’s worth mentioning that the heating and air condition requirements may not apply in all markets. Instead, they mainly apply in real estate markets where they have been warranted.

Also, the above requirements are not set in stone. Some requirements may change from one house to the other, depending on its design.

What is Excluded When Calculating Square Footage?

According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), unfinished spaces, spaces without four walls, detached structures and spaces without climate control are usually excluded.

Some of the areas that may be excluded when calculating the total square footage include:

Sub-Surface Spaces

Sub-surfaces spaces such as basements are usually excluded from the total square footage.

For instance, if you are looking to purchase a home, you may come across a listing that says the property comes with a 400-square-foot finished basement.

And under ANSI standards, sub-surface spaces are not included in the total square footage.

In such a situation, you should clarify with the seller or listing agent whether the basement will be included in the property’s total square footage.

Garages

Regardless of whether you are using your garage as a home gym, store, or any other use besides parking your vehicle, it will not feature in the total square footage.

You can only include a garage when calculating the total square footage if you have converted it into living space.

Furthermore, this living space should be in line with the architectural standards of the rest of your home.

Some Porches

Most porches are normally excluded from a home’s total square footage. If the porch is not heated or fully enclosed, then it will not feature in the house’s total square footage.

Unfinished Attics

As earlier mentioned, attics have to be finished and have a minimum clearance of at least seven feet.

So, if it’s unfinished or its clearance is below seven feet, then it will not be included in the total square footage of the house.

Detached Living Spaces

Detached living spaces may include things like swimming pools, sheds, accessory living units, workshops or any other space that’s not a part of the main living area of the house.

Such living spaces are not included when measuring the square footage. For instance, you may have a guest apartment outside the main living area of the house.

Regardless of how big it is, that guest apartment will be considered a detached living space. And therefore, it will not be considered when calculating the home’s total square footage.

Protrusions

Protrusions like windowsills and chimneys are not considered in a home’s total square footage calculation.

Unlike garages, protrusions are usually excluded from the total square footage because they are not on the same level as the rest of the home – as they are slightly elevated.

Open Spaces

Some open spaces in a house may also be excluded when calculating the total square footage.

For instance, there may be an area on the second floor of your house, which is open to the lounge beneath it. Any space without a floor will not feature in the square footage calculation.

Enclosed Patios

Considering that patios are part of the main house, most people would assume they will be automatically included when calculating the house’s total square footage.

However, this is not always the case. So, why are enclosed patios excluded from the total square footage?

Well, most patios have a lower construction quality compared to the rest of the house. So, if the patio doesn’t have the same feel and look like the rest of the house, it will be excluded.

Also, if its architectural style doesn’t flow with the rest of the house, it will be excluded from the total square footage.

Furthermore, if the patio doesn’t have a heating and cooling system, or if it’s using a separate system from the rest of the house, it will be excluded.

How to Calculate Square Footage

Different realtors use different approaches when calculating the square footage of a certain type of property.

The simplest and most common method entails measuring the exterior of the house with a tape measure and then multiplying that figure by the number of floors in the house.

The realtor will then measure the square footage of the excluded areas and then subtract it from the figure obtained above.

Wrapping It Up

Calculating the square footage of houses and properties is a standard practice in the real estate industry. It provides realtors with an accurate picture of a particular property’s livable space. They will then use that information to determine the pricing.

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How Do Realtors Calculate Square Footage?

About THE AUTHOR

Kevin Sagers

Hi! My name is Kevin. The "Today I'm Home" team have spent years with home related projects and researching new ideas. Now we're bringing our knowledge to you, and continuing to share what we've learned as we continue to grow. Let us know if you've got any tips and tricks that would be great to share with the community!

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