The Chicago Real Estate Minute

Why in the world isn’t square footage required on chicagoland MLS listings?

Shouldn’t you know how much space you’re buying? Here’s how to call for that change to our local MLS practice.
2 minute read

My answer is, I have no #$@&%! idea. During my 19 years in the business, realtors in the Chicago metro area have never been required to either measure it or use it. And, from what I can gather, we are the only MLS nation­wide that does not mandate it.

Issues that can arise

Valuing real estate is difficult enough when you have the square footage, thus made all the more chal­leng­ing without it. What if you need to make sure that Grandma’s antique dining room table will fit just right? Another concern is the threat that exists for a seller and their realtor — facing lit­i­ga­tion if the amount of square footage listed is found to be incorrect.

Why it’s important to know the square footage

If you’re basing decisions about your potential purchase on what’s arbi­trar­i­ly listed in the MLS, you could be in for a real surprise. If there is an amount listed, it is often a vague round number, or there is nothing listed at all. Knowing the price/sq foot of your home (and other homes around it) will make you a much more educated buyer. Actual square footage is by far the best way to do an apples-to-apples com­par­i­son.

How to find out what your square footage is

Despite the fact that the MLS doesn’t demand it of realtors, apprais­ers are required to list exact square footage on their reports — this is often the best place to find it. If you own a condo, the HOA may have a record of it. Or, if you don’t mind swimming through a 100+ page document looking for it, the developer may have listed the square footages of each unit at the time of con­struc­tion. The county asses­sor’s site lists the square footage of single family homes, but that is not always deemed accurate nor does it consider below-ground space in their cal­cu­la­tions. An appraisal of the property is the best way to know.

Final Word

Truth be told, many listing agents do a brief walk­through with a frothy latte in their hand and ballpark the square footage. This is no way to make a deter­mi­na­tion of the size of a home. All the listing sheets in our own MLS even disclose that “Information is deemed reliable but not guar­an­teed.”

Every real estate show on HGTV and elsewhere discusses square footage, so why not us? Feel free to join me by calling our MLS (known as MRED LLC) at 630 – 955-0011 and asking them to change this anti­quat­ed practice!

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