Please note, although I'm mentioning Orland Park real estate, this article covers all real estate in our Northern Illinois MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Our company is based in Orland Park and is our main village. In fact, because I network with agents around the world, I've heard other agents stating the same thing.
Why Don't All Listings Have Square Footage Listed?
Until just a few years back, the square feet section in our MLS wasn't a required field, so most agents didn't bother with it. It is now a required field but we can put in "0" if we're not sure what the true value is. I will only post square footage if I have a prior appraisal, an original blueprint, it is listed in tax records or a folder/pamphlet from when the property was built. Most of the time we only have what the tax records show and that's what we use, stating that the figure is from the assessor.
Real estate agents are not taught how to measure for square footage. We realize it is a measurement of the exterior of the building but this is just something we don't do and aren't trained in. This is for an appraiser.
Agents Have Been Sued for Improper Sq. Ft. Figures!
Yep, in this litigious society real estate agents have been sued by buyers for incorrect square footage that was listed in the MLS. I'm not sure how that can be upheld since every listing in our MLS has a disclaimer as follows:
The accuracy of all information, regardless of source, including but not limited to square footages and lot sizes, is deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be personally verified through personal inspection by and/or with the appropriate professionals.
Why Do We See Price Per Sq. Ft. in Our MLS?
Some of our reports will show price per sq. ft. Appraisers will show the same information on their appraisals, although they will only measure the subject property and will take MLS figures for the comparable places. Price per square foot is more important in new construction and commercial real estate sales.
Most will agree that there are too many variables for existing properties to give price per square foot much weight. Location, condition, recent upgrades/updates, area distressed sales & many more variables makes value per sq. ft. not very accurate to determine value.
Why Do Appraisers Use It?
I have read that although appraisers measure for square footage, it doesn't hold a lot of weight for the actual value of a home. I sometimes bring it up in a CMA (comparative market analysis) if the sellers of the subject home think their home is worth more than my CMA shows. I can show sellers the price per sq. ft. of the comparative properties to compare it to what they want and it opens their eyes and is another method to show them the current market values.
Most appraisers and agents agree that for existing homes, comparing similar properties is still the best way to arrive at market value and appraised value for the lender's use. Buyers determine the current market value and a sales comparison with similar properties is the standard.
Buyers Do Ask the Question
I am asked "what is the square footage" a lot, more lately than ever before. I will look on the MLS print-out to see if it is listed and then I explain about why it might not be listed. In fact, I really don't understand the question, especially if we're in the house. It is either large enough or not and you don't need a measurement to see if the house is right for you.
I could understand more if the question was asked prior to seeing a property. Even then, once buyers have been out looking at places they should realize if a 10'x12' master bedroom won't be large enough for their king sized bed and dressers. Every listing in our MLS has room sizes, and after looking at a few homes you should be able to narrow down properties with small room sizes. Square footage doesn't show you the actual floor plan and how rooms are created and situated can make a big difference in livability.
If you're interested in buying Orland Park real estate (or any other Northern IL town) contact The Judy Orr Team at 708-536-8200.