Square Footage Disclosure
What is a Square Footage Disclosure?
In every residential sales transaction, a Square Footage Disclosure form is required to be completed and signed by both the Seller and Buyer. There are two sections: the first states whether or not the listing licensee has measured the property. The second asks from which source the listing licensee received the square footage measurement. If a Seller agrees with what the realtor listed, he or she will sign and the disclosure will be passed onto the Buyer. If the Buyer agrees to accept the property with the square footage listed and the source from where the measurement came from, he or she will also sign. If the Buyer disagrees with the measurement, he or she may give a Notice to Terminate the contract.
Sources for Obtaining Square Footage
Here a few places where square footage measurements may be found and used in a disclosure:
- Licensee measures a property – this can be done the old fashioned way by getting out a tape measure. Since licensee’s are not licensed appraisers, this is probably not the most accurate measurement.
- Prior Appraisal – A property may have been previously appraised either for lending purposing, or simply because a homeowner wanted to know the current value for his or her property. The date of the appraisal being used must be stated on the disclosure.
- Building Plans – If the original plans of the home are in possession of the Seller or are recorded and available with the town, the total square footage number may be used on the disclosure. The date on the building plans being used must be stated on the disclosure.
- Assessor’s Office – This is the source most often seen in selling residential real estate in Summit County. A listing licensee may obtain this number by going to the county record’s where the property resides. It is very wise to double check this number. Many times additions, finishing unused spaces, and more do not get updated on the assessor’s website. Since a property’s square footage is a key component when listing a property for sale and in determining what to list a home for based on price per square foot, ensure the number is correct and up to date.
What Areas are Included?
Not all areas of a property are included in the square footage disclosure. Unfinished basements, garages, patios, decks, and walkways are not included. Some owners have even asked whether they include to the exterior walls, or the interior walls. The answer is, it depends. Based on where the square footage source is coming from, there may be differences in the square footage listed. For example, builder plans may include the thickness of walls, whereas an appraiser may not include since he or she comes into a property and uses a measurement device to measure the size of each area of a space.
What if there are Discrepancies?
As aforementioned, it is not uncommon for there to be differences in the numbers reported for square footage. Do not assume that a number listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is correct. Others rely on third party sources such as Zillow or Trulia, which may be out of date or are pulling their numbers from assessor’s websites that may not be current. For example, an owner may have finished a basement, but the assessor’s office is behind in adding the square footage to the overall square footage for the property.
As a Seller, it is legal and ethical to use the highest number found from the sources available and list this number on the Square Footage Disclosure form.