One House, Many Possible Square Footages
"How big is your house? It depends on whom you ask," according to an article by Alina Dizik.
"There is no national standard when calculating square footage. Appraisers, builders, developers, real-estate agents, tax assessors and architects may each measure spaces differently," explains Dizik. "Some calculate space based on a home’s overall 'footprint.' Others include only interior dimensions of finished living space. Counting square footage also varies by region, so things like balconies, basements and garages are counted in one market, but excluded in another."
The discrepancies in measurements create confusion and surprises for consumers, especially when the measurements of appraisers don't reconcile with the measurements state and local governments use for tax purposes.
For the purposes of managing that confusion, Dizik recommends checking the sources of measurements quoted by real estate agents, "specifically inquiring about private outdoor terraces, the garage, the basement, and utility closets or staircases." Also recommended: "focus on the dimensions of individual rooms, such as the great room, kitchen and bedrooms, which helps potential buyers visualize their living spaces."
[This Wall Street Journal article might be behind a paywall for some readers.]