Buying A Home
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WWYD - square footage surprise

I am about to sh*t frisbees.

Our appraisal came back and appraised exactly at the purchase price (including the $12K towards closing that we're getting). 

I thought it would appraise much higher and in reviewing it, I noticed that the appraiser listed the square footage at 2,380. Well that's totally wrong, because public records say 3,046. After reviewing the sketch of the property, public records are wrong and the house is smaller than we thought. 

I'm completely unsure of what to do here. We thought we were getting a great deal at $135 per sq ft and we're actually paying $173 per sq ft. That's around what comps are going for, but I feel a bit hoodwinked here.

My MIL, who I love dearly, pointed out that this means the floors will be cheaper to redo. It also means that our homeowners insurance will be cheaper. I'm trying to see the bright side here.

Should I be flipping out? Should I be okay with it? We're 10 days from closing! I don't know what to do. 

Re: WWYD - square footage surprise

  • I can understand being upset, I know I would be.

    700ish sq ft is a large amount of space. Did you measure any of the rooms or notice how that much space could be missing? 700 sq ft would be the size of a nice living or family room (a 25x25 ft room is 625 sq ft). Is it possible they originally counted an unfinished basement area in the sq ft for the house?

    Do you think the sellers would be willing to negotiate? 

  • I have no idea if this is any help but for our home owner's insurance- they do not include the basement in the square footage for some reason (I can't remember why). Is it possible the appraiser did the same thing?

    Our house was listed as 3,260 sq ft but the insurance/apprasier put down about 1,700 sq foot (can't remeber the exact number) but it did not include the basement. But our insurance/appraisal included basement info and sq foot was separate.

    Did the original & new square footage include garage, basement, deck, or any other structures?

    Or maybe the public records are actually incorrect. That would be very strange.

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  • Does the house have a basement and was that sf included in the public records? Is the appraiser listing just finished living space? 

    That could account for the difference. 

  • The appraiser did not count the basement (which is finished). However, the other comps that were used also do not count their finished basements in the public record square footage that TREND uses in listings, which skewed the price per square foot. Does that make sense? Basically, for the sake of comparison they should not be including the basement in the square footage because the norm here is that you say xxxx square feet plus a finished basement.

    I called our REA and she's going to talk to the lawyer in her office about it. 

    I feel like such an idiot. The house didn't feel quite like 3000 sq feet, but I thought maybe the layout was off. I never thought that it was missing 700. 

  • image mekiakoo:

    I have no idea if this is any help but for our home owner's insurance- they do not include the basement in the square footage for some reason (I can't remember why). Is it possible the appraiser did the same thing?

    Our house was listed as 3,260 sq ft but the insurance/apprasier put down about 1,700 sq foot (can't remeber the exact number) but it did not include the basement. But our insurance/appraisal included basement info and sq foot was separate.

    Did the original & new square footage include garage, basement, deck, or any other structures?

    Or maybe the public records are actually incorrect. That would be very strange.

    Looking at the documents, I think the public records must be off which I agree, is very strange. Both the appraiser and public records seem to include the garage. The appraiser did not include the poured concrete porch outside. It isn't enclosed, so I don't think it should count. 

    I just pulled the public records on the house around (which was used as a comp) the corner from the assessor's website.  They have a finished basement which is not included in the assessor's sq footage count or our appraisers.

  • image kaylie622:

    The appraiser did not count the basement (which is finished). However, the other comps that were used also do not count their finished basements in the public record square footage that TREND uses in listings, which skewed the price per square foot. Does that make sense? Basically, for the sake of comparison they should not be including the basement in the square footage because the norm here is that you say xxxx square feet plus a finished basement.

    I called our REA and she's going to talk to the lawyer in her office about it. 

    I feel like such an idiot. The house didn't feel quite like 3000 sq feet, but I thought maybe the layout was off. I never thought that it was missing 700. 

    That's pretty interesting. Here a finished basement is considered part of the sq ft not some additional area. Now what can happen is if a house is built with an unfinished basement and recorded as such then the record is off, if the home owners finish it at a later time. For the current home owner its a good deal because it keeps property taxes lower. Maybe like your MIL said, it won't turn out to be to bad of a deal. 

    You'll need to consider it thought when insuring the home because in a complete lose situation if you don't insure enough to cover the basement you won't have enough to replace it. 

  • so you obviously want to live in this house right?  10 days away from closing, I would assume you were pretty excited prior to hearing this news. You have been in the house and like the layout, space. Does this number being off really make much of a difference?

    And as for public records being off, I have seen a lot of that in our internet stalking of properties :o

    Obviously you don't want to buy a house that isn't what you thought it was. But don't forget you didn't have an issue with this house prior to knowing the sq ft differences. 

  • image AmandaJLewis:

    so you obviously want to live in this house right?  10 days away from closing, I would assume you were pretty excited prior to hearing this news. You have been in the house and like the layout, space. Does this number being off really make much of a difference?

    And as for public records being off, I have seen a lot of that in our internet stalking of properties :o

    Obviously you don't want to buy a house that isn't what you thought it was. But don't forget you didn't have an issue with this house prior to knowing the sq ft differences. 

     This is my way of thinking as well. I hear you about the basement, though, because in our area they are not supposed to include it. (So the house we are buying is 2500 plus a finished basement in the listings). But some agents did include it in the square footage if it was finished. So when I was walking around those houses I was like why does this feel so much smaller than X house when the footage is the same? And then we realized the basement thing.

     But if the size of the house didn't put you off when you went through it and you still think the price is ok, I probably wouldn't worry about it.

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  • We had MASSIVE issues w/ our appraisal because of the basement issue.  We bought a split level in a neighborhood of MANY split levels.  If ANY part of the bottom floor is at all "under ground" (no matter how minor), it's not counted in the square footage.

    They didn't count our bottom level, even though in our layout, NONE of the bottom level is underground at all.  You walk into the ground level!

    Then they compared us to houses where the bottom level WAS "under ground" and, well.... let's just say it became a nightmare for us.

    I'm still angry about it.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • I personally wouldn't get hung up on the number. The house had to seem big enough when you saw it to fit your possessions and lifestyle then, why does the little change in number matter now?
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  • For me, I guess it would come down to if I loved the house no matter what the square footage was.

     

    (You also inspired me to figure out what the cost per sq. ft of my house is...I've never done that before!) :)

  • image AmandaJLewis:

    so you obviously want to live in this house right?  10 days away from closing, I would assume you were pretty excited prior to hearing this news. You have been in the house and like the layout, space. Does this number being off really make much of a difference?

    And as for public records being off, I have seen a lot of that in our internet stalking of properties :o

    Obviously you don't want to buy a house that isn't what you thought it was. But don't forget you didn't have an issue with this house prior to knowing the sq ft differences. 

    These are my thoughts as well. The square footage may not be what you thought it was, but if the price is still within comps, then you're not getting ripped off. Also, it's very common for public records to be inaccurate. They are so off in my area, it's absurd.

  • image NextChapter:
    image AmandaJLewis:

    so you obviously want to live in this house right?  10 days away from closing, I would assume you were pretty excited prior to hearing this news. You have been in the house and like the layout, space. Does this number being off really make much of a difference?

    And as for public records being off, I have seen a lot of that in our internet stalking of properties :o

    Obviously you don't want to buy a house that isn't what you thought it was. But don't forget you didn't have an issue with this house prior to knowing the sq ft differences. 

    These are my thoughts as well. The square footage may not be what you thought it was, but if the price is still within comps, then you're not getting ripped off. Also, it's very common for public records to be inaccurate. They are so off in my area, it's absurd.

    I understand but I think I would be upset if this happened to me too especially if we were hoping to at least get some equity already by having the house appraised higher than the selling price. But at least it did not appraise lower than the selling price- that probably would have been a problem.

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  • Thanks everyone. I do still love the house, I'm just annoyed with the sellers (for other reasons besides this). I think I'm letting my feelings snowball, which isn't good this close to closing.
  • I would make sure to contact the city clerk and see that the records get corrected.  You do not want to be paying taxes on 700 sq ft you do not have!
  • image Sisugal:
    I would make sure to contact the city clerk and see that the records get corrected.  You do not want to be paying taxes on 700 sq ft you do not have!

    We were actually planning on getting the house reassessed anyway, so this will add to our ammunition. Several of the other houses in the neighborhood have decreased their taxes $1,500 - $2,000 a year by appealing them. 

  • Did the seller or listing agent list the square footage on the MLS listing?  I would assume they had the larger sq. ft listed and you easily claim that the property was misrepresented and could back out if you choose.

     

     

  • image cmeller:

    Did the seller or listing agent list the square footage on the MLS listing?  I would assume they had the larger sq. ft listed and you easily claim that the property was misrepresented and could back out if you choose.

     

    They had the larger sq footage listed, but that's what the county assessor's office has as well and they can claim that they just used the public records and that there was no reason to assume they were wrong. 

  • image kaylie622:

    They had the larger sq footage listed, but that's what the county assessor's office has as well and they can claim that they just used the public records and that there was no reason to assume they were wrong. 

    I would show your report to them and tell them that you based your offer price on a certain square footage.  However, it is smaller and no longer justifies your price.

  • If it's a finished basement, I think it's fair to include it in the SF.

    Around here, it's as another poster mentioned.

    If the basement is unfinished, the SF would not be included.  But if it's finished, livable space, that would be counted towards the appraisal AND your taxes.

  • image sratsey:

    If it's a finished basement, I think it's fair to include it in the SF.

    Around here, it's as another poster mentioned.

    If the basement is unfinished, the SF would not be included.  But if it's finished, livable space, that would be counted towards the appraisal AND your taxes.

    The thing is our basement is finished and it did not count towards the SF. It must vary with location?

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  • image mekiakoo:
    image sratsey:

    If it's a finished basement, I think it's fair to include it in the SF.

    Around here, it's as another poster mentioned.

    If the basement is unfinished, the SF would not be included.  But if it's finished, livable space, that would be counted towards the appraisal AND your taxes.

    The thing is our basement is finished and it did not count towards the SF. It must vary with location?

    It may only count as SF in a finished basement IF there is an accessible entrance/exit to the basement, such as a walkout patio door, egress window, bilco door.

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  • image mekiakoo:
    image sratsey:

    If it's a finished basement, I think it's fair to include it in the SF.

    Around here, it's as another poster mentioned.

    If the basement is unfinished, the SF would not be included.  But if it's finished, livable space, that would be counted towards the appraisal AND your taxes.

    The thing is our basement is finished and it did not count towards the SF. It must vary with location?

    I think it's a regional thing, likely based on the tax situation in the area. Here the norm is not to count it, though listing agents like to say "plus an additional xxx sq ft of living space in the basement!"

     

  • Do you still love the house? They don't include basements and other areas here as well or they list it separately.
  • image sweetcaroline10:
    image mekiakoo:
    image sratsey:

    If it's a finished basement, I think it's fair to include it in the SF.

    Around here, it's as another poster mentioned.

    If the basement is unfinished, the SF would not be included.  But if it's finished, livable space, that would be counted towards the appraisal AND your taxes.

    The thing is our basement is finished and it did not count towards the SF. It must vary with location?

    It may only count as SF in a finished basement IF there is an accessible entrance/exit to the basement, such as a walkout patio door, egress window, bilco door.

    On Long Island, once you finished a basement, it added to your taxes.

    SF was usually looked at in terms of livable space, whether or not there was an exterior door.  A finished basement was looked at as a "third floor"

    The only way to really find out it to call the town and the tax assessors office and find out how they do it in that area.

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