Why you shouldn’t take square footage as an absolute truth

Square footage depends on who's measuring

Square footage depends on who's measuring

Last Friday’s Chicago Tribune had a good article, “Understanding the square footage of your new home” by Erik J. Martin. It contains helpful points for home buyers.

The article shared the important facts that “no official industry standard exists for calculating residential square footage”, nor is there widespread consensus on the correct measuring methodology.” So 2 professionals measuring a home may arrive at 2 different measurements of square footage. I once witnessed a situation where 3 professionals measured a condo and arrived at significantly different square footage measurements!

The advertised square footage of the condo was 3,375 SF. The seller’s agent said the square footage was from the builder. Two appraisers were brought in. The first stated in her report that the square footage was 3,201, 5.2% less than what the builder had provided. The second stated in his report that the square footage was 2,824 SF, 11.8% less than what the first appraiser measured and 16.3% less than what the builder measured!

So when you see the square footage on a listing, don’t assume that it’s truly the size of the home. Until builders, appraisers and other real estate professionals set a standard and come to a consensus on how to measure the size of homes; square footage is just someone’s opinion.

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Fran Bailey Fran Bailey is a Realtor who has been quoted in numerous Chicago and national publications. To schedule showings for any listings, get a free market analysis for your home or to contact Fran email her at fran.bailey@bairdwarner.com or call 773.793.4516. Learn More


  1. says

    I have seen home buyers get very flustered because the county tax records didn’t match what is on the marketing material. The real estate tax records must be right, right?

    Hopefully, one day in the near future, there will be a “dimension master app” that can calculate finished square footage with the push of a button. Until that happens we are all going to have to put up with subjective approximation.

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