Appraisal came back with different SQFT than the listing

32 Replies

Hi, 

Recently i bought a house. As part of appraisal, appraisal came back with different SQFT than the listing.

House was advertised as 2006 SQFT and tax record / Builder doc shows the same. Appraisal report shows house is with 1908 SQFT. There is a difference of 98 SQFT less.

Reached out to seller agent and they are telling what ever they listed is as per tax records (they put 2006 SQFT) and not able to reduce the price. 

Need some help / input - what are the options for me now? Closing is 1.5 weeks away.

Do i need to reach-out to attorney for checking the options / back out?

There is no official way to measure the square footage of a house.

Imagine measuring using the outside walls, then measuring inside...youd get 2 totally different numbers. Closets or no closets. 

Hi Ronald, thanks for your response.

If i buy this house now, after sometime if i try to sell, do i need to go with what in tax records currently (2006 SQFT) or the apprisal value which i got now (1908 SQFT).


In this apprisal / tax record, Garage space was not included.

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :

There is no official way to measure the square footage of a house.

Imagine measuring using the outside walls, then measuring inside...youd get 2 totally different numbers. Closets or no closets. 

 Thanks for your response. I agree there could be some difference even if i go with one more time doing appraisal. Result may vary.

Will this difference help to backout / negotiate?

That is not a significant difference for appraisal purposes.  An appraiser will not typically make an adjustment to a comparable for differences under 100 SF on that size of a property.  Two different appraisers will likely come up with two different square footage estimates.  On newer homes the county may take the square footage from plans and specs which is center wall to center wall and an appraiser measurements are exterior walls so in that case it may be slightly larger.  Get a tape measure and measure it yourself to reach a determination because the appraiser may be wrong by a small margin.  The agent needs to rely on a source deemed to be reliable and county records are generally deemed to be reliable. There is typically a disclaimer in appraisals stating the the square footage estimate is for appraisal purposes only and that minor deviation are of no consequence.  The appraiser is verifying square footage figures and identifying significant differences from what is reported.  Look at the adjustment grid in the appraisal and see if the appraiser adjusted for differences under 100 SF and the adjustment amount for differences.  The adjustment amount for differences is likely between $50 and $100 PSF.  I don't think you can rely on the appraisers square footage estimate as being exact and certainly could not use that as a basis to get an attorney involved since the appraisal likely states that it is an estimate for appraisal purposes only. I hope this insight helps. 

Originally posted by @Prabhakaran Subramanian :
Originally posted by @Russell Brazil:

There is no official way to measure the square footage of a house.

Imagine measuring using the outside walls, then measuring inside...youd get 2 totally different numbers. Closets or no closets. 

 Thanks for your response. I agree there could be some difference even if i go with one more time doing appraisal. Result may vary.

Will this difference help to backout / negotiate?

 No it won't. Have 10 different people measure the house and you will get 10 different square footages. 

Originally posted by @Ronald Allen Barney :

Appraisals will only count climate controlled space as housing SQFT.  Some people will add porches and decks, and sometimes even garages.  Tax records probably just believed whoever told them.

It's really a matter of whether you think this property will cash flow, at 2006 SQFT or 1908 SQFT.

Hi Ronald, thanks for your response.

If i buy this house now, after sometime if i try to sell, do i need to go with what in tax records currently (2006 SQFT) or the apprisal value which i got now (1908 SQFT).


In this apprisal / tax record, Garage space was not included.

Originally posted by @Phillip McDonald :

That is not a significant difference for appraisal purposes.  An appraiser will not typically make an adjustment to a comparable for differences under 100 SF on that size of a property.  Two different appraisers will likely come up with two different square footage estimates.  On newer homes the county may take the square footage from plans and specs which is center wall to center wall and an appraiser measurements are exterior walls so in that case it may be slightly larger.  Get a tape measure and measure it yourself to reach a determination because the appraiser may be wrong by a small margin.  The agent needs to rely on a source deemed to be reliable and county records are generally deemed to be reliable. There is typically a disclaimer in appraisals stating the the square footage estimate is for appraisal purposes only and that minor deviation are of no consequence.  The appraiser is verifying square footage figures and identifying significant differences from what is reported.  Look at the adjustment grid in the appraisal and see if the appraiser adjusted for differences under 100 SF and the adjustment amount for differences.  The adjustment amount for differences is likely between $50 and $100 PSF.  I don't think you can rely on the appraisers square footage estimate as being exact and certainly could not use that as a basis to get an attorney involved since the appraisal likely states that it is an estimate for appraisal purposes only. I hope this insight helps. 

 Thanks Phillip. It helps.

Originally posted by @Russell Brazil :
Originally posted by @Prabhakaran Subramanian:
Originally posted by @Russell Brazil:

There is no official way to measure the square footage of a house.

Imagine measuring using the outside walls, then measuring inside...youd get 2 totally different numbers. Closets or no closets. 

 Thanks for your response. I agree there could be some difference even if i go with one more time doing appraisal. Result may vary.

Will this difference help to backout / negotiate?

 No it won't. Have 10 different people measure the house and you will get 10 different square footages. 

 Thanks Russell. It helps.

Originally posted by @Caleb Brown :

How low was the appraisal value? 98 SQ FT is barely any 

 There is no lower value in apprisal. Whatever i quoted offer for 2006 SQFT, appraisal report said the amount which i offered is good for 1908 SQFT as well ... Apprisal value is increased.

Difference i saw is seller quoted as 1206 SQFT and appraiser quoted as 1908 SQFT.

@Prabhakaran Subramanian the sellers agent should have measured the property to confirm the tax record was correct. I had an identical situation occur, with an error of similar square feet. Here is what I did. I met my realtor at the property. He measured the square feet with me. We confirmed that his measurement matched the tax record. We contacted the appraiser to tell them that they were wrong. The appraiser met us at the property and we confirmed they were wrong. In my situation the error occurred because the appraiser measured the basement. The upstairs had overhangs of 2 fee running which he didn't include. Even after recognizing his error, he didn't want to revise the appraisal because it would have increased value and his appraisal matched the purchase price (of course). We agreed that the "official" appraisal for the bank would stay the same and he sent me a separate appraisal for my records. 

The first step is determine what is correct. 

@Prabhakaran Subramanian

This sounds like a whole lot of nothing. Did you want to buy the property or didnt you? You asked to negotiate they said no. What are you going to the attorney for? To see if you can back out? You can. Will you keep your escrow? Whats the contract say? I regularly refer to a hpuse i own as 1,200 sq ft. Its 42x30 so thats 1260. But that includes 300 feet of porches. They are enclosed and heated so they should count right? Lol who knows. Did you make your offer based on a conparable per square foot price? Because i dont think ive ever actually seen an appraisal by price per square foot even though its an acceptable method. I used it once. When the house was 6000 square feet but only 3 bed 2 bath and we couldnt comp it. 3/2's were only 2500 square feet, and 6,000 sq ft houses were 6 bed 4 bath. I ran comps 3 different ways to try to figure out the best comps. Otherwise, back to my forst question. Do you want to buy the house or no?

@Prabhakaran Subramanian   when I sold my primary there was almost 700 less square feet in the tax record vs actual square footage.  The error was since building but everyone until us had used the tax record.   It is more about the house and rooms then small differences in square footage. I can tell you the town was on my doorstep before I sold to re-assess for taxes. I would not worry about this difference.

@Prabhakaran Subramanian - does your contract include square footage? In Texas contracts there is no square footage included in the contract and you cannot back out of the contract and I don’t see attorney can help you here.

MLS listings always have a disclosure for buyers to verify sqft, schools and all MLS info. You can hire professional to measure the sqft. Also the PSF is somewhat irrelevant as this doesn't account for lot size, home upgrades, etc.

IMO 98 square feet is a big deal. I was selling a condo and it came out about 39 square feet less, the price per square feet was $184 had to reduce it by $7176 for the sale to go through. Once you list your home for sale you will have to list it as 1908 square ft as per appraiser. You can always negotiate it with the seller, for the whole 98 square feet or something in the middle, depending how desperate you are to buy this house .