How To Determine Square Feet In Your House For More Accurate Property Estimates

Kyle Hiscock

Kyle Hiscock | Greater Rochester NY Real Estate | Pittsford NY Realtor at RE/MAX Realty Group

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How To Measure A Homes Square Footage
How To Measure A Homes Square Footage

When selling a home it is essential that you provide buyers with accurate information. If a seller or real estate agent provides information that is wrong they can be accused of misrepresentation.

Egregious errors can lead to lawsuits which can be time consuming and potentially costly. Besides proper representation, It is important to be able to accurately determine square footage in your home in order to get accurate property estimates.

By understanding how square footage is calculated, you will be able to make an informed decision about the size and layout of your home.

The square footage of a home is one factor that can affect the price, taxes, and renovations that are possible on it.

In addition, a properties square footage measurement can be subjective. Knowing how to accurately arrive at the square feet in a house becomes crucial.

Let’s look at what you need to know.

What Are Square Feet?

The square foot calculation is rather simple whether you are trying to determine the size or a room or an entire house. To get the square footage of a room you will multiple the length by the width of the room to get the square footage.

For example, if you are measuring your dining room and it is 14 feet by 12 feet, the sq ft calculation would be 14×12 = 168 square feet.

How to Calculate Square Feet in a House?

Understanding how to accurately calculate the square feet in an entire house is a bit more tricky. The simplistic way to measure an entire house is to calculate the square footage of each floor in the house and then add them together.

If you are measuring a traditional colonial without many angles or jogs it can be pretty straightforward. For example, a 40×28 colonial without any additions would be 1120 square feet on each floor for a total of 2240 square feet.

You can also measure room by room by that is more work and easier to make mistakes. Where it becomes a bit more challenging in measuring is when you don’t have a traditional style home.

A contemporary with all its weird angles and jogs likely won’t be able to be measured by taking the measurement of each floor and multiplying by two.

You will need to take the extra time to measure room by room.

Sourcing of Square Footage Becomes Essential

When selling a home, a real estate agent will be required to enter the square footage of the home into the Multiple Listing Service. The MLS is the chief source of how information gets transmitted between a seller and a buyer.

The MLS, via a feed will send all of the properties for sale to all the most popular websites that buyers look at homes. Buyers often make decisions on which homes they want to view based upon the square footage.

For a real estate agent, getting this size of a home right is of the utmost importance. Real Estate agents will have multiple choices to explain to consumers how the square footage was determined.

The most common sources of square footage include the following choices:

  • The seller
  • Architectural drawings
  • The city of town
  • The builder
  • An appraiser

You’re probably thinking to yourself with so many sources of where a home’s measurement comes from, it may differ depending on who provides the information.

You would be one-hundred percent correct. Square footage should never be taken with a grain of salt. If the size of a home seems off, a buyer should verify by trying to figure it out themselves.

Real Estate agents can be sued for misrepresentation when information in their marketing is not accurate.

The Size of a Home is a Significant Pricing Variable

Home Size is a Significant Pricing Variable
Home Size is a Significant Pricing Variable

Without question the size of a home is a significant variable in determining market value. However, it is not the only one. One of the worst ways to figure out the market value of a home is using price per square foot.

Many real estate agents will use this very basic valuation method to determine fair market value. Doing so, will lead to valuation mistakes a significant percentage of the time.

It is fairly easy to understand why. The size of a home is vital but there are many things that determine market value. Here are some of the things that price per square foot does not take into account:

  • The location of the home
  • The amenities in the home
  • Any additional buildings or improvements such as a pool
  • The condition of the property
  • The number of bedrooms and baths
  • How desirable the lot and surrounding are for the property

Let’s just quickly look at two of these examples so you can understand why price per square foot is a terrible way to figure market value.

If you put your home 2500 square foot home in the most desirable area in town do you think it would be worth more than the same 2500 square foot on a busy major route? Of course not, yet the homes are the same size.

Now think about this for a moment – two identical size homes one has the following amenities: Central air, granite counters, tile showers, hardwood floors, crown moldings, wainscoting, and multiple fireplaces.

Do you think a home didn’t have any of these items would be worth significantly less? Without a doubt! It wouldn’t even be close but the properties are equal in size.

Don’t Confuse Square Footage With Gross Living Area

One other crucial distinction is square footage and gross living area. Today many people finish their basements. Some of them are just stunning and have significant amounts of money invested in them.

However, it is vital to note that areas below grade are not included in the square footage. This space is considered in the gross living area but not the square footage.

You will never see an appraiser putting a finished basement into the square footage. The values of these area no matter how nicely they are finished are valued differently than above grade space.

When real estate agents include the finished space in a basement as part of the square footage, it will be different than the appraisers measurements. This will undoubtedly lead to an appraisal gap that could cause issues with the sale.

Final Thoughts on Measuring Square Feet

Whether buying or selling a home, it is essential to pay attention to the square footage of the property. It is one of the metrics with heavy emphasis in pushing market values one way or the other.

Make sure you do your due diligence.


About the author: The above article on “How To Determine Square Feet In Your House For More Accurate Property Estimates” was written by Bill Gassett. Bill has been working in the real estate industry for the past thirty-three years. He works for RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton Massachusetts. Bill loves providing trustworthy information to buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make the best possible decisions. His writing has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, Today.com, Credit Sesame, and others.


About Rochester’s Real Estate Blog: Rochester’s Real Estate Blog is owned and operated by Kyle Hiscock of the Hiscock Sold Team at RE/MAX Realty Group.

Since being launched in 2013, Kyle has published more than 150 quality, in-depth, and unique real estate related articles on the Rochester Real Estate Blog pertaining to topics varying from home selling to mortgages and everything in between!  In addition to quality real estate related content, there are also many quality articles pertaining to the Greater Rochester NY area.

The Rochester Real Estate Blog has been recognized by many reputable websites as one of the best real estate blogs to visit and follow!  In addition to being recognized as one of the best real estate blogs, Kyle has been recognized as one of the top Realtors on social media by several organizations and websites.

With over 40 years combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.

We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.

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