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About Sq ft - 3


As you know, in the United States, house sizes are often expressed in square feet (sq ft) since the metric system isn't commonly used.


However, you may find some houses that appear much larger or smaller than their listed square footage suggests. Why is that?


Certainly, factors such as the amount of light entering the house, wall color, decorations, and layout can make a house appear larger. Moreover, a well-designed layout can significantly enhance the perception of size.


However, that's not the whole story. In fact, in the housing market (at least in Illinois), it's quite common for listings to inflate the square footage by omitting or inaccurately specifying areas that should either not be included or should be clearly stated separately. The motive behind this practice is simple: if two houses are priced the same, a buyer would naturally be more drawn to the one with a larger apparent size. This could potentially attract more interest and visitors to the house (though unfortunately, these visitors are likely to leave disappointed).


Another scenario arises when inexperienced real estate agents on the buyer's side mistakenly believe that the given square footage is accurate and end up overpaying for the property.


Now, let's delve into how square footage is inflated, continuing from the previous discussion.



  • Houses with Converted Attics


In the realm of U.S. residential properties, it's quite common for older single-story homes to have their attics converted into second floors. However, in cases where the conversion wasn't legally approved or permitted, these changes wouldn't be reflected in the tax documents.


Consider this example:

As seen above, the listing states the square footage as 1131 sq ft, with a note indicating that the upper square footage is 377 sq ft. However, the actual square footage documented for tax purposes is only 754 sq ft. This discrepancy arises because the listing includes the sunroom and the converted attic space.


In this particular case, based on the photos, it's apparent that the second-floor space doesn't meet the requirements to be counted as habitable square footage. To qualify as a room, the space needs to have a ceiling height of at least 8 feet and must be equipped with windows for egress and a closet.


In the next discussion, we'll explore the complications that arise from inflated square footage in the process of house contracts.

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