With the rapid increase in new construction, have you ever asked yourself, how is the seller calculating square footages? This might seem like a simple question, but believe it or not, the answer is not always that simple. Do not make assumptions about how square footages are being determined, such as the normal assumption that the square footage being represented is “air conditioned” square footage, as many of us might think. There are several different ways to measure the size of a home/condominium, and not surprisingly, sellers tend to use the methodology that results in the largest square footage. So ask questions.

For example, one of the more prominent ways that some builders measure square footage of single family homes is to include the exterior block walls in their calculations. This has the obvious effect of increasing the square footage of the residence beyond what one would consider usable space.  When purchasing a single family home, one should always ask the seller if their square footage calculations include the exterior block walls (and other areas one might not normally associate with livable/useable space).

With respect to condominiums, every Declaration of Condominium provides the definition of how each condominium unit’s boundaries are established, and thus how each unit should be measured. Nevertheless, some sellers may still choose to measure the unit to the exterior face of the outside walls, or use some other methodology that results in square footages that might exceed the square footage of the unit’s boundaries, as determined by the Declaration. As such, when purchasing a condominium, it is wise to ask the seller if the square footages that are being represented were determined in accordance with the boundaries of the unit as set forth in the Declaration (which typically defines the boundaries as the face of the interior walls, floors, and ceilings), or is the seller providing measurements that may not be consistent with the declaration (such as measurements that go to the outside of the walls or otherwise include limited elements, or even common elements).

If you have any questions about the manner in which a residence or condominium’s square footage should be calculated, we urge you to consult with your real estate attorney.  Whether you represent a buyer or a seller, confusion or misunderstandings can lead to unintended legal consequences.


Berlin-Patten, PLLC

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.

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