Top 9 reasons you should get your home measured by a professional

There are numerous reasons why a homeowner should get their home measured by a professional. The main reasons that I can think of involve selling your home and the need to accurately disclose how much living area it has. In case you weren’t aware it recently became a requirement for Birmingham, AL area real estate agent to disclose the living area in a home. I’ve written previously about this subject but thought I would provide a list of reasons why you should hire a professional to do this job for you, so lets get started.

9 reasons to get your home measured by a pro

The Top 9 Reasons To Get Your Home Measured By a Professional

1) They will show you the difference between finished and unfinished area– It is very important that the measurements between these two areas be understood and segregated. Finished area includes area that is heated and cooled and finished in a habitable condition. Unfinished area includes areas such as basements that may have concrete floors and walls but is not heated and cooled and is not typically lived in.  Sometimes homes have basements that have dirt floors and low ceilings, however these areas are not included in the calculations.

2) They know where to take measurements- Correct measurements are taken from the outside walls on all levels of the house. This may seem difficult with the second level of a 1.5 story home but measurements are typically taken from the inside on the second level and then wall thickness is added back in. Many floor plans that are not for appraisal purposes use interior measurements, however by taking outside measurements more square footage will be accounted for.

3) They know what areas to include in the gross living area (GLA)- This may seem minor to some people but if you include areas that cannot be included in the GLA in an appraisal, and you price your home with this square footage, it may not appraise. Your home should be measured like the appraiser will measure it for the mortgage loan appraisal. If you priced your home including areas not typically included then it may not appraise for the contract amount because the appraiser will probably leave those questionable areas out. You will get credit for these areas but it will not be valued at the same amount.

4) They know what the ceiling height rule is- There is a ceiling height rule that I have written about in the past that can cause problems unless you know what you can and cannot include. Including areas designated in this rule will overstate your GLA and therefore overstate your asking price.

5) They will let you know if you can include an apartment in the GLA- Sometimes homes have teenager apartments or mother-in-law quarters that can be included in the gross living area but it must meet the ANSI Standard. If it does not then your gross living area will be overstated. If you have a question about this let me know.

6) They know the stairwell rule- The greater the square footage you have the more money you can get for your home. Knowing this rule will allow you to include square footage that those unfamiliar with it will exclude.

7) They can verify if the county has correct area calculations- If you think you are paying too much in property taxes you may want to check if they have the correct square footage for your home. The county values your home on how big it is so if you can provide documents to show that it is smaller then your taxes will go down.

8) Potential buyers will know if their stuff will fit in your house- If a potential buyer is moving out of a 1,500 sf home and wants to move into something bigger, but you cannot prove to them that your home fits the bill, then you could lose a sale. Out of town buyers are use to seeing square footage quotes with listings because until recently every place but Birmingham, Alabama listed this information, however we have now jumped on the bandwagon, thankfully. By including square footage you will be on par with most other multiple listing services across the county.

9) Property will be more likely to appraise for contract- For reasons I have previously mentioned if your square footage is calculated correctly using the same method the appraiser will use, then it is more likely that value differences related to incorrect square footage will be eliminated.

Still Seeing Issues Interpreting Tax Records

If you haven’t figured it out by now I think it is very important to have your home measured for listing and other purposes. The quality of data provided on listings is questionable at best especially if information is taken from county records. In addition to the square footage being wrong, interpreting what the county has can also be done incorrectly. I recently came across a listing where the total square footage quoted included the total living area and then the base area was also added to that, which resulted in a gross overstatement of the gross living area.

county tax errors

I have seen many listings include porches and storage closets in the gross living area. This can lead to homes not appraising for contract and buyers not being happy after they find out their home is smaller than quoted. If you have any questions about this important topic feel free to contact me, I would be happy to provide helpful information to you.

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  1. Well said, Tom. It sure can make a difference. What type of measuring tool do you use to get accurate measurements?

    • Ryan I use the trusty and dependable fiberglass tape measure. I might go with an electronic device in the future but this method works fine for me now.

      • Me too, Tom. I like using a tape measure personally. A laser measure only works well if the person using it knows how to use it. I had someone show me a sketch made with a laser measure that was off by 150 or so sq ft compared to the accurate measuring I produced with a tape measure. I’m not on a high horse by any means, but I personally prefer the tape measure. Call me old school. To each his own. The truth is anyone can miss the mark no matter what they use, which is why we need to be careful.

        • That’s true Ryan about being careful. I do know appraisers that swear by the Disto or whatever they use. Right now I am pretty proficient at measuring with a tape so until I find the need to switch over I’ll stick with it.

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