5 Things Agents Should Know About ANSI

House Measurement Tips For Agents

I previously wrote about Fannie Mae’s recent decision to require all loans they purchase to adhere to the ANSI standard for house measurement. You can read that post here. While I know that most agents in my area do not measure their own homes I still believe it is important to understand how square footage is calculated using ANSI.

House Measurement Tips For Agents

From speaking with agents all across the country I know that there are some that do measure their listings and I hope that this can be helpful to them as well. My ultimate goal is to help make the square footage figures listed in the MLS be as accurate as possible.

Having accurate square footage information will help agents in pricing their listing and it will help other agents in the future obtain more precise price per square foot statistics. In addition, the MLS information will be more accurate for appraisers to use when they are collecting comparable information, so it is a win-win for everyone involved.

Today I thought I would share with you five things that agents should know about how square footage is calculated using the ANSI standard. If you have any questions feel free to leave a message or contact me by email or phone.

5 Important Tips For Agents

  1. Openings to the floor below – A good rule of thumb is if you can’t walk on it you shouldn’t count it. Many houses have two-story foyers or living rooms but because it has no floor area you cannot count it in the gross living area (GLA). One thing I have noticed with county tax records is that they sometimes overstate the second-floor size because the house does have an open to below area that they do not know about. They usually calculate the second floor to be the same as the first floor which overstates the square footage because they did not deduct the open area. If you rely on the county square footage for situations like this you will most likely price the home too high. The appraisal may come in lower than the contract because of the smaller square footage.
  2. Ceiling height requirements – For a room or area to be included in the GLA it must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet. If a room has beams, HVAC ducts, or other similar features the minimum height is 6 ft. 4 in. I have only seen this be an issue in a handful of homes I have appraised over my 30-year appraisal career. It usually occurs in two areas, a finished attic, and a finished basement. When finishing an attic or basement it is important to keep this requirement in mind when spending the money or you may not be able to include it. Some attics are too low depending on the roof pitch and some basements don’t have enough headroom to technically be included in the living area calculations. There is a special case with angled walls. See below…
  3. Angled walls below 5 feet are not included – If a house has finished attic space or a room over the garage like is common in my area, there are specific rules for including the square footage. No areas with a ceiling height below 5 ft. can be included. If the floor area is 20’x20′, or 400 square feet, but the ceiling is angled, no area below the 5-foot level can be included. In situations like this, the only area included may be closer to 300 square feet depending on the angle of the ceiling. In addition to the 5 ft rule, at least half of the effective finished square footage must have a height of at least 7 feet to be included in the GLA.
  4. Finished areas connected to the house – This rule is pretty straightforward. For a finished area to be included in the overall GLA it must be connected to the main house by a hallway or stairway. If you must go through an unfinished area such as a garage or breezeway to get to another finished area it cannot be included. Garage apartments, both attached and detached from the main residence, are included here. This does not mean that the area does not contribute value to the home it just means that the area in question cannot be included with the main residence GLA. Many times these areas contribute significant value, however, as noted it is not included with the main residence.
  5. Stair openings – Lastly, I want to discuss stair openings. These areas are included in the square footage of the level above if the opening does not exceed the size of the stair treads. If there is an opening that exceeds the boundaries of the stairwell it is not included in the area of the floor above. This can be a little confusing to picture, however, if you stick to only including the actual stair treads you will usually be fine.

You can see that ANSI measurement standards have some specific guidelines that must be met for the area to be considered as GLA. It is important to follow these guidelines so that there is consistency in all calculations.


Do you have any questions about the ANSI standard and how GLA is calculated? If so, leave a comment below and as always thanks for reading.

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  1. Mark Skapinetz says

    Nice job Tom. I have been talking to many agents and more about the new requirement of ansi and many I’ve spoken with are willing to hire me to do it for them.

    I have always used Ansi as a standard in GA and took Hamp Thomas class to just get more info Highly suggest it through appraiser e learning

    • Same, here. I have used ANSI from the beginning. I have heard about Hamp’s course and I’m considering taking it as well. I have heard some good things about it. Keep up the good work over in GA.

      • Just finished the ANSI Roadshow through appraiser elearning. Excellent course, good overview. I plan to take a more in-depth course. Also, planning on reaching out to agents in my area regarding the new changes and offer measuring or advice.

        • That’s great, Kim. Is that the one Hamp Thomas teaches? I think he offers a professional home measurement designation that adds credibility for potential clients. I hope to take that one.

  2. Chad Brantley says

    Great article as usually Tom! Thanks for all of the valuable information that you provide to us!

  3. I don’t believe basements are included in the GLA regardless of the height.

  4. Good stuff, Tom. I’m taking an ANSI class next month to get refreshed. Hey, is it 6’4″ or 6’8″ under a beam?

    • That’s awesome, Ryan. I took one last year but have seen where there is a class that will help you get an official designation as an expert measurer that I may look into. My copy of ANSI shows 6’4″.


  1. […] of areas can be included in the gross living area. The methods of home measurement are dictated by ANSI standards which have been around a while but most recently were made a requirement by Fannie Mae for loans […]

  2. […] Horn has compiled a brief article on measurement tips for real estate agents. FannieMae has just put out guidelines stating that any loans they purchase should be measured […]

  3. […] 5 Things Agents Should Know About ANSI – Birmingham Appraisal Blog […]

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