Which square footage figure you should use?

Which square footage figure you should use?

Friday Nov 17th, 2023

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When buying or selling a home, one of the key figures you will encounter is the property's square footage. Square footage is a measure of the space inside the property and is an important factor in determining its value. However, determining the correct square footage figure to use can sometimes be a challenge, as there are different methods of calculating it.

The Different Square Footage Figures

There are three main types of square footage figures used in real estate:

  • Gross Living Area: This figure represents the total finished square footage of the property's livable areas, including all above-grade spaces. It typically includes bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, kitchens, and dining rooms.
  • Total Square Footage: This figure represents the total square footage of the property, including both above-grade and below-grade spaces. It includes all livable areas, as well as areas such as garages, basements, and storage rooms.
  • Appraisal Square Footage: This figure is determined by a professional appraiser and represents the square footage that is considered to add value to the property. It typically includes only above-grade spaces and may exclude certain areas, such as garages and unfinished basements.

Which Figure Should You Use?

When determining which square footage figure to use, it's important to consider the purpose for which it will be used. For example:

  • List Price: When listing a property for sale, the most common figure used is the Gross Living Area. This is because it represents the livable space that is most relevant to buyers and is typically used by appraisers and real estate agents to determine the property's value.
  • Assessed Value: When determining the property's assessed value for tax purposes, the figure used may vary depending on local regulations. In some areas, the Total Square Footage is used, while in others, the Appraisal Square Footage is used.
  • Insurance: When insuring a property, the figure used may vary depending on the insurance company's requirements. Some companies may require the Total Square Footage, while others may use the Gross Living Area.

Ensuring Accuracy

Regardless of which square footage figure you use, it's important to ensure that it is accurate. Inaccurate square footage figures can lead to misunderstandings, legal issues, and even a loss of value for the property. To ensure accuracy, it's best to hire a professional appraiser or use a reliable online tool that takes into account all relevant factors.

Understanding the different square footage figures used in real estate and knowing which one to use can help you accurately value and sell your property.


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