Why Knowing the Actual Square Footage is So Important

This past tax appeal season we got to see first-hand how important it is to know the true square footage of a house. In this case, it saved our client over $4,000 per year!

We were hired to do a tax appeal appraisal of a home in the Bryn Mawr section of Lower Merion Township. The homeowner was paying over $15,000 per year in property tax. It was a very straightforward assignment.

So, we inspected and measured the property. Our measurements showed that the house was 2,808 SF.  Not a big house by Main Line standards but, a good size.  The problem was that the assessor’s record and sketch of the house showed that the property was 4,438 SF.  That’s a huge disparity.

After talking with the assessor, we found out that the house had only been measured from the exterior and that the assessor never went inside the house. Had the assessor gained entry to the house they would have seen that a large part of the first floor had ceilings that were actually two stories high.  The assessor assumed that the second floor mirrored the foot print of the first floor.

In this case, knowing the true square footage got our client a 25% reduction in their assessment which translated into over $4,000 per year in savings going forward!

As an Agent, you can’t always rely on what is in the public records. If you ever find yourself questioning the square footage, it’s always best to have the property measured.  The most common lawsuit against real estate agents is for misrepresentation of a property’s square footage.  A simple “footprint” sketch can save you from all sorts of headaches and possibly a law suit.

Most appraisers can provide basic sketches that will give you a good idea of the actual square footage. If you need something more detailed and “professional” there are several services that will do architectural renderings of a property that are great for high-end marketing pieces.

 

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. We also provide “footprint” sketches for determining a more accurate square footage of a property.  If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

 

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Don’t Rely on the Public Records…

Don’t Rely on the Public Records…When It Comes to Reporting Gross Living Area Accurately.

Just today, I had a situation where I was asked to appraise a property in the Graduate Hospital area.  As it turns out, the homeowner informed me that I was the second appraiser to look at the property.  This was a For Sale By Owner, as well.  The owner also stated that the reason that a second appraisal was ordered was because the first appraiser “muffed-up” the sketch and got the GLA all wrong.  Apparently, the calculations on the sketch were a couple hundred square feet smaller that what was recorded in the public records.  I could feel my eyes beginning to roll backwards.

The homeowner was hanging her hat and the potential sale of her property on the Philadelphia public records.  Geez.  She was very insistent that the other appraiser had no idea what they were doing.  The idea that the public records could be wrong never crossed her mind.  She’d been living in a house of certain size for 10 years and no one was going to tell her different.

So, I went about my inspection, making sure to measure twice.  Upon getting back to my office I drew the floor plan up using my sketch software.  As luck would have it I must have “muffed-up” the sketch, as well.  My calculations were some 200 SF smaller than what was reported in the public records.  Imagine that, two, seasoned, professional appraisers made the same mistakes and arrived at almost the exact same GLA for her home?!?!

The lesson here is it’s never a good idea to rely solely on the public records when it comes to matters of GLA.  Think about it.  Where does the information in the public records come from?  Did an assessor measure the property?  Did a developer provide the info when submitting plans?  Was it taken from an architects rendering?  Who knows?

If you really want to know the accurate GLA of a property, you have to measure it…whether you measure it yourself or use a measuring service!  It’s not difficult to do and can help you avoid all sorts of headaches and misunderstanding.  If you have any questions about how measure a house or about our Home Measuring Services, just let me know.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

 

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