How Does an Appraiser Measure Your Home and Why Does it Matter?
When I get a call from someone asking me to list their home, I like to go through a series of questions to get to know them, their timeline, and home better. One question I ask that often has a multitude of different answers is how many square feet are in the home. The husband usually says one number, the spouse might counter with another, I will pull tax records and old MLS listings, and sometimes those even tell a completely different story … So, which one is it? Which number is correct? Why would one house (that most likely hasn’t changed shape over the course of its existence) have clashing square footage figures from different sources?
Why are Square Footage Numbers Different?
There is a myriad of reasons why square footage numbers differ and part of it is how they get those numbers.
- Builders typically measure their square footage numbers based off interior walls.
- County tax records often get square footage numbers and home footprints from builders.
- County assessors may estimate square footage numbers off those blue prints but may not go out and physically measure the property.
- Homes may have been added onto after being occupied by the homeowner, and either the County was never informed of the square footage increase or they have not yet updated their records.
- An appraiser measures homes off exterior walls.
- Realtors© typically use tax records or an appraiser’s measurement for their square footage listing.
Why does it matter?
Often potential buyers will search by a minimum square footage number. The more you have the more eyeballs are potentially on your home. Every 100 square feet are roughly equivalent to $10,000. That’s a big deal!
A Realtor© will use square footage to determine a home’s value and listing price. Before a bank completely underwrites a home mortgage loan they require an appraisal to be done on the home to validate the home’s value. A bank does not automatically loan whatever the sales price of a home is. They will only loan as much money as the appraiser assess the property to be worth.
Appraisals will use many of the same tools as Realtors© when assessing the home’s value, so as a real estate agent I want to be very accurate in managing my client’s expectation on a home’s value and what we can sell it for. We want to get our clients every possible dollar their home is worth.
One place where we try to be very accurate is a home’s measurement. If there are several discrepancies or if the home feels bigger than it shows on records, we will recommend our clients to call an appraiser to come out to measure the home. Depending on the size of the home it may cost the home owners a $100, but it is $100 well spent. If the home is bigger than initially thought, we can use that to our advantage to price the home higher. We will also provide those measurements to the bank’s appraiser and it could help them value the home higher. Additionally, agents can send appraisers comparable properties that help to establish a home’s value.
Small details matter in maximizing the price you can sell your home for. Make sure you get the best professional representation when selling or buying a home. A great real estate team will help you make/save money in your home sale! They will communicate frequently, keep you appraised of the next steps in your home’s transaction, protect your interests, and make sure you walk away a happy customer.