Does a Real Estate Agent Have to Tape-Measure a Home to get the Accurate Square Footage?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…One of our buyer clients asked us this question this week, and we thought other buyers may have the same concerns…hence the subject of our blog today.

To answer this question in a nutshell, NO…a real estate agent does not have to tape a home when providing the square footage of that home to a potential buyer.  In fact, all agents are discouraged from doing so since the actual taping of a home falls outside an agents area of expertise.

So…where does the square footage information come from?  Multiple sources, which are all designed to provide the buyer with the accurate information a buyer needs before making an offer.

Most Realtors obtain the information regarding the size and square footage of a home from the city/county records available on-line by said governmental departments.  We live in a digital age, where in almost all cases, this information has been made public from the building permits for any particular home.  Title companies have this information as well, but susally the title companies are only passing on the information they too have obtained from the city/county.

Can this information be incorrect?  Absolutely.  Let’s be fair here…most of the time, the information provided by the city/county is accurate, but they can make mistakes.  Common sense will prevail if the listed size of the home in the records is, for example, 3000 square feet, but it’s obvious that the actual home is only 1,000 feet!   Even a real estate novice can see that variance.  But if the home is listed at 1,600 feet, and is actually only 1,550 feet, then very few can see this difference.

So then what?

Well, the next source of the true size is an appraisal…and if the buyer is purchasing the home with a loan from any bank or mortgage company, then there will be an appraisal involved.  Appraisers are the qualified professionals who CAN  measure a home, and when they make the appraisal, they measure the home, and then provide a drawing of the home.  This drawing will show all the exterior walls, many times the interior walls, and give both the actual measurements and the total square footage of the home.  Therefore, the appraisal will hopefully verify the information that is already in the public records.

You can also use any original brochures given by the new builder of a house, assuming the seller still has them from when the home was new.  You have all seen housing brochures when touring a new housing development, and this information is taken from the actual blueprints used to build the home, and therefore are usually pretty accurate.

These are the usual sources for Realtor provided information regarding the size of a home, and they do a good job of keeping everyone on the same page.  As an FYI, most of the Realtors in this industry have seen sellers who “grew” the house after living in it for many years.  By that we mean when a seller bought the home, they knew it was actually, for example, 1,550 feet, but when asked by friends over the years, the common response is “Oh, it’s about 1,600 feet!”  After enough statements like this, then when it comes time to sell, the seller will tell the Realtor the “new” size of the home….and that’s why almost all agents will pull the existing public records to simply protect everyone one from getting the wrong information.  Saves a lot of hassles down the road.

So, in the end, public records will normally get you close, if not right on, and an appraisal will totally verify in the size of the home you are purchasing.  We hope this helps you  if you ever find yourself wondering how the size of a home is determined.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading our blog.

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