Mar 26, 2017
As any homebuyer knows, a residence can contain many intangible qualities. Homes, like people, have characteristics that can’t easily be represented by statistics.
But one would think that those uncertainties wouldn’t include its size. After all, square footage is square footage, a crisp, clear number defined on an information sheet in black and white.
As simple as it might seem, however, the truth is that figuring the true living space in a home in Clayton or Ladue – the St. Louis area - may take more than a calculator and tape measure. Do balconies count? What about attics or finished basements? Are dimensions being figured to interior drywall or exterior bricks? In a large home, these differences can add up to dozens – perhaps even hundreds – of square feet.
“Developers tend to say, ‘We are selling you this much square footage.’ But it is really living area?” says Chip Wagner, a Chicago-area appraiser quoted in a story published earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal.
Adding to the confusion is that regions, localities – or even individuals – may have different practices and formulas when it comes to figuring the magic number. Fortunately, there are guidelines from the American National Standards Institute and published by Home Innovation Research Labs but there is no guarantee those are being used to arrive at the figure you are being quoted.
Some tips from the experts in the WSJ piece can help pin down the numbers however:
• Think in terms of room sizes rather than total square footage to see if the divisions in your domicile can accomplish what you want from them.
• Don’t be shy about asking your agent which areas are counted and which are not. Is that garage, outdoor terrace or utility area considered “living space”?
• Add up the sizes of the rooms yourself to get your own feel for how big or small your prospective home might be. After all, you’ll be the one living there. The space should work for you.