Home owners lying about SF?

13 Replies

Hi everyone,

How do I find out a properties legit SF. I have possible prospects that I believe are lying dramatically about the SF of their homes in order to get a better deal. How can I find out the actually square footage of their home?

tax records?

Assessor office website or just go to the assessor office of the city or county. All you will have to do at their office is give them the address. Navigating around assessor websites can be difficult in my opinion.

@Damon Armstrong Once on the assessors website do you know what link to go to?

Assessor's office estimates are only a guess.   It's pretty easy to tell the assessor's office a higher number when you add space too, FWIW.  That number then gets enshrined in tax records and Zilllow and wherever else so the unsuspecting assume it is correct.   Assessors do not audit the square footage of homes.  

The way to get the square footage measurement is to go out and measure the square footage.  This is the most basic part of any appraisal report and something you should do or pay to have done if you are going to buy a building. 

I'll give you the instructions I take on the one I go to. They may all be different...not sure. But usually you find departments, assessor, tax roll, click yes for the disclaimer, year should be auto set to 2013, and then type in the address to the property. For example if the home address is 123 King St, in the address column only type "123 King". On the assessor website you don't use "St." or "Dr." or "Blvd" or "Ave" etc...if you can't find it using my instructions then private message me the property city, county, and address. I'll look it up for you and then reply with the instructions on how I did it, so you can use it again in the future.

@Account Closed

Uhhh.... Measure it yourself?

Broker class 101. If you are going to wholesale, learn what the real estate brokers already know. They know how to measure square footage. heated and unheated. Get the book the real estate brokers use in their class and read that as a starter...

@Tom V.

Maybe you are correct, but I had to visit the local assessor page today. The SF of the property was on there under additional stats.

With this being said, @Account Closed , if it is not on there, then take his advice and go measure it out, or hire someone to do so.

Regardless, you need to get familiar with the assessor page. If your seller is lying about SF, who knows what else they are lying about. The assessor page will give you some info on the property that may not be on an appraisal. I

Originally posted by @Damon Armstrong :

@Tom V.

Maybe you are correct, but I had to visit the local assessor page today. The SF of the property was on there under additional stats.

Damon - I am not saying the square footage is  not listed as a data point.  I am saying it may not be reliable for a variety of reasons.    

@Chris Martin Uhhh… yes, that would be the obvious route. Although, I don't think going out to measure the house is the best idea or worth my time. I just need an idea of the square footage in order to pull legitamate comps. I am not looking for an exact number. I couldn't care less about the actually square footage, as long as it is close.

Thanks though.

Originally posted by @Robert Zuccaro:
@Chris Martin Uhhh… yes, that would be the obvious route. Although, I don't think going out to measure the house is the best idea or worth my time. I just need an idea of the square footage in order to pull legitamate comps. I am not looking for an exact number. I couldn't care less about the actually square footage, as long as it is close.

Thanks though.

That's right. Why be accurate. Just use secondary marketing research and other people's numbers. Certainly knowing about the property you are marketing is not worth your while. I'll be Zestimate is close enough for you. Condition? I'd bet you would say "Just needs a little TLC." Close enough. Right? You are the kind of wholesaler I don't deal with. "I couldn't care less about the actually square footage, as long as it is close." Your words. Total BS.

You're welcome.

@Robert Zuccaro if you think they are seriously overstating the square footage you can use google earth and use the measure tool to do the square footage. In my area I can be within 25% of what it really is if you are careful.

Here there is no broker book on how to measure properties. The MLS has standards but they are often not followed and brokers can just default to the assessor's figure. This is frequently done because it removes the liability of the agent. Some brokerages require their agents to use the assessor's figure. If there is a serious discrepancy then they hire an appraiser and use the value given by the appraiser.

The only sure way is to measure it yourself. Once you do that, how do you know your comps were measured the same way? It's not really a science.

Be aware different areas have different customs for how property is measured and reported. Your sellers maybe from a different area and have a different idea about what "counts".

I once had a contract on a property that had a cellar under about half the structure. By cellar I mean about 6 ft of head room with bare concrete walls and floors, exposed floor joists overhead, a bare light bulb for light, no outlets, and a half height wall holding the dirt back from the crawlspace area. Somewhere the cellar square footage got added to the assessors roles. When I measured, it shrunk considerably. I was able to get out of the contract and get my earnest money back based on a measurement by an appraiser. I still lost my due diligence money but was glad I found out ahead before I closed.

Medium rre 1to1 small sizeBill S., Reliant Real Estate, Inc. | 720 207‑8190

I wouldn't take an assessors' word for square footage, I've seen some pretty big mistakes in, or lots of blanks in property records. The average house is easily walked off with your own feet, no measuring tape needed for a pretty close estimate of square footage. If your gut is telling you they are lying, I would measure it myself.