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.
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!