SELLER’S ADVICE: SHOULD YOU GIVE SQUARE FOOTAGE?

Written by Blanche Evans

The square footage of a home can work for or against you as a seller. Buyers tend to think bigger is better, but your smaller home may actually feel more spacious than one that has a bigger footprint. Or your large home may actually be more livable than lavish square footage would suggest.

So how do you get the true character of your home across to buyers-by showing your living space to advantage. Living space is defined as space that is roofed, enclosed and finished for human occupancy; heated and cooled; and directly accessible from another living space.

Tax authorities typically measure from the exterior of the home, length times width. That’s one reason why square footage often doesn’t reflect the livability of a home or explain why the interior may seem much smaller than exterior square footage.

Living space measurements do not subtract the thickness of the exterior walls, insulation and drywall. Further, a lot of living space is simply unusable for actual living, such as empty space beneath stairwells, or the access space required around water heaters and other systems required by code.

So if square footage numbers don’t seem in your favor, talk to your real estate professional about ways to make what you have more attractive to buyers. Showcase your floorplan to advantage through videos, photos, staging and lighting. Bright, sunny spaces appear larger than dark closed spaces, so open the curtains and let the light in. Keep the lights on for showings.

Clear out all clutter. Clutter takes up valuable real estate and a messy room is distracting. Remove and store excess furniture and belongings, so that each room functions well with a minimum of furniture and accessories. Stage the home for optimum traffic flow around uncrowded tables and chairs.

Help your real estate professional stage your home for all photos that will appear online. Take the computer off the dining room table. Clear off countertops and tabletops, make sure furniture and lamps are right-sized for each room, and that each room is represented as advertised.

What you don’t want to do is measure your home yourself. There is no standard way to measure a home — a laser or a measuring tape may yield different numbers for different people, which could open you to liability.

Last, provide third-party sources for square footage, such as a tax assessor or appraiser. Put a disclaimer in your mandated seller’s disclosure that says the following: “All third-party measurements are approximate. Buyers must rely solely on their own investigation of the property and satisfy themselves that this property is suitable for their needs.”

Remember, your buyer is interested in getting the most home for the money compared to other similar homes, but you can show them that what they want is a home that functions well.