If you’ve started shopping for your next home and, like many buyers, initially use the Internet as your primary source of information regarding the homes of interest, it’s important to understand the truth about square footage and how that information is obtained and derived.  Direct searching by consumers on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is not possible. Thus, the scope of the information provided on the websites you may visit where the MLS listing details are syndicated for your home search convenience, can be misleading.

While most agents try to fairly represent a property’s square footage, it can be challenging to accomplish, primarily because there are so many different sources agents can use for that information. Moreover, differing sources can have differing measurements leading to differing estimates of square footage. One of the most valuable steps in deciphering the “reality” from the number is to know what is included or excluded in that particular representation as well as whose representation it actually is. It’s important to keep in mind that statements of square footage don’t always take into account spaces you might be thinking about or not considering in the size of the house such as garages, basements or even recent additions.

Square-foot estimates can come from the tax assessor, the builder, an appraiser, floor plans, the resident, blueprints, a plat of survey or even have been estimated by an agent or owner. With that many sources for the data, there is sure to be a difference of opinion about the number of square feet in any property.

But the wrong number doesn’t change the actual size of the house. Undoubtedly, this can surely be confusing.  The best and clearest idea for understanding the size of a home is to view it, personally.  Regardless of the square-foot estimate, the space needs to work for you and the space needs to be in the right places. So don’t completely rely upon an online square-foot estimate.  Moreover, if you’ve looked that property up in the tax assessor’s website where taxes are calculated, in part, by using estimates of square footage, understand that the home owner has a reason not to report an underestimate error if they are aware of one.

When searching for a home online, the best approach is to first make sure it has all of the criteria you need and then schedule an appointment with an experienced agent who understands your space expectations.  For additional information regarding the buying or selling process, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find a new home or determine the value of your existing property.



Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
[email protected]

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.    

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