What The New ANSI Standard Requirement Means For Appraisers and Agents

ANSI Standard Now A Requirement

In case you haven’t heard, Fannie Mae announced in December that starting on April 1, 2022, they will require the ANSI measurement standard to be used on all properties they purchase. This requirement is for homes that require an interior and exterior inspection.

What ANSI Standard Means For Appraisers and Agents

The floorplan sketch must be computer generated and include the exterior dimensions used to calculate the gross living area. The ANSI standard is not new, however, the fact that Fannie Mae is requiring it to be used is.

There are two main residential home measurement standards in the United States, however, Fannie Mae has chosen to use the ANSI standard as their requirement. The idea behind this is that requiring a standard will help everybody involved be on the same page regarding how the area was calculated in a way that can be reproduced.

Some have argued against requiring a measurement standard when others involved in the game, such as real estate agents and property assessors are not required to do this. While there has been no response to the question, we can only assume that in the future the requirement may be expanded to these parties as well.

You may think this new requirement doesn’t make sense. Why should appraisers be required to follow the standard if the sales they use (in the MLS) are not being measured by the same standard?

It makes more sense if we look at this long term. If all parties to a real estate transaction are working off of the same standard there is less room for variations in square footage calculations.

The price per square foot metric is probably the most well-known by the general public and real estate professionals. Most real estate agents I know utilize the price per square foot of comparable sales to price their listings.

I do not believe this is the best way to go about pricing a house except for certain situations but since most agents utilize this technique it is very important that the square footage be as accurate as possible.

Some differences exist in measuring techniques depending on what standard you use. If an agent uses a square footage calculation that is different from the ANSI method or uses county records the figures could be significantly different.

If there is a 200 square foot difference between what the agent uses in their price calculations and what the appraiser has, and the price per square foot used is $100, then this could cause the asking price to be off by $20,000.

If the agent used the ANSI measurement, which the appraiser is required to use, then this difference would be greatly reduced. Carrying this further, the future sales information regarding this property would be more reliable and could be used by agents and appraisers with greater confidence.

How can the agent utilize ANSI? They can measure the house themselves or if they do not feel comfortable doing it they could have someone who is familiar with it, such as an appraiser, do it.

The ANSI standard is not a “quick fix” in standardizing data, however, it is the first step in a longer process to eventually having everyone in the real estate transaction using the same methods of house measurement.


I have been in the appraisal profession for approximately 30 years and have been using the ANSI standard since it was introduced. If you have any questions about ANSI, or if you need a home measured, feel free to connect with me. As always, thanks for reading.

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  1. First, I agree that ppsf is totally unreliably where housing stock in a given competitive market area is heterogeneous. CMA programs in our MLS make it easy for agents to compare apples with oranges behind an attractive cover. Agents promote their listings using effective area calculations on tax cards, or they’ll lump unfinished basement space with above grade living areas. Even worse, sometimes they will include decks, garages and screened summer porches in their calculations. Makes a body want to stand up and holler. We definitely need a uniform standard required of RE agents, but I don’t see our MLS imposing the ANSI standard on its members. Jesus, some agents don’t know how many s.f. are in a s.y. And, the ANSI standard is more than a perimeter measurement. Hopefully municipal appraisers will adopt it and give agents who can read a standardized tax card template to follow. Just sayin’.

    • Randy, it sounds like there is a lot of room for error with square footage considering that agents may combine multiple areas into the gross living area when they shouldn’t be. Do agents in your area measure their own listings? I have lived in areas where agents did, however, in the Birmingham area where I work now they do not. Even though they may not measure it is good to know the ANSI standard so that you are aware of what can and cannot be included. It would be nice if the tax assessor adopted this as well for the reason you stated. It would allow the agent to use a reliable GLA figure. If the agent does not have a GLA figure they can trust they can always hire an appraiser to measure the listing for them, just make sure they follow the ANSI standard.

  2. Nice job Tom. As I type I’m actually on the phone with my MLS to help give some advice for how to represent square footage. I’m not on the board but they asked me to share. And I’m going to tell them about Fannie and ANSI. Hey, maybe I should just email them your blog? 🙂

    • That’s awesome, Ryan. I’m glad they are asking for input from an appraiser. I think agents and appraisers must work together to coordinate helpful information. If you don’t document it you can’t measure it. Your MLS seems to be on top of things with the data they track based on the charts and graphs you are able to produce. Keep up the great work.

  3. The only problem I see there is 2 story foyers and or Family rooms.
    I think Ansi does not include those in GLA but all the tax records (in my area) do.
    So to get Apples to apples we would have to guestimate how much of each comp is 2 story and deduct that from the GLA in tax records.

    • You are right that they do not include two-story foyers or family rooms. Are you able to track down who did the appraisal and verify the GLA with them? I do this sometimes.


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