Birmingham, AL Realtor Tips: How to Add Accurate Square Footage To Your Listings

The Birmingham Alabama Multiple Listing Service recently introduced an option allowing agents to list the gross living area (GLA) of their listings.  This is a great feature that will help both Realtors and real estate appraisers.  Realtors can now let potential buyers know how much living area the home they are looking at has.  This can be helpful to buyers who want to make sure that the home is large enough to hold the furniture they have.  If they are moving out of a 1,500 S.F. home they want to make sure the home they are buying is at least that size.

Gross living area can be obtained from several different sources.  The most logical one would be an old appraisal on the home.  If nothing has changed, then the living area can be taken directly from the appraisal.  If no appraisal is available  you can get the information from the County Tax Report that is available through the MLS reports.  You have to be very careful with this information because it is not always correct.  It is usually pretty accurate with one story slab homes as well as full two story homes with identical first and second floors.  It is with 1.5 story homes and homes with finished basements that inaccuracies start to occur.  Unless the county tax assessor has obtained floor plans they may have only estimated the living area on the second level.  Living area in the basement may also be inaccurate if it is listed at all.  Some homeowners may finish off the basement without getting a building permit and the living area will not be shown.  I have included a tax record with notes to use as a guide in getting the information from county records.

Sample Jefferson County Alabama Property Tax Report

Click to Enlarge

Some tax listings include porches in the “Total Area” section and I have noticed Realtors using this as the GLA, which would not be correct.  The last place to get the correct square footage would be to call me.  I could measure the house and provide a floor plan sketch for you to include in your MLS listing.  What do you use to get the correct gross living area calculations for your MLS listing?

If you have any questions on getting the correct gross livng area please give me a call at 205-243-9304.


  1. Hey Tom,

    For some reason, the MLS does not allow us to do gross living area anymore. I really liked that feature, although not many Realtors used it and yes, many Realtors did not know how to accurately determine square footage.

    Check this out: Now Shelby County is reporting differently on tax records.
    They are now providing a percentage of all areas that determines Total Area.
    For example:
    Basement Conc FL Full Finish (B 0.6) – 771 sf.
    This means that 463 sf will be counted in the Total Area. And it will only count 463 sf in Living Area as well.
    Pretty interesting !!

    • That’s interesting Ann, I did not know the MLS was not allowing you to do that anymore. Was there a problem with it? Seems like Shelby county is making it a little more complicated than it should be. They should make it easy for someone to be able to find out what the living area is.

  2. Interesting. One county that I appraise in does the same thing for reporting the GLA of two story homes, they estimate. I have found that the tax assessor has an inaccurate GLA of almost every two story home in the county. This is a great blog post making everyone aware of this and how to add accurate square footage to listings.


  1. How to Measure a House for Accurate Square Footage » Plan Ahead says:

    […] use information the county has. If you are going to go this route then you may want to check out my tutorial on how to use county records for square footage information. Remember that the county does not always have the most accurate data, however if you choose to use […]

Speak Your Mind


Sign up and get valuable content!

  • Get local real estate market data
  • Learn valuable information from a seasoned appraiser
  • Find out what adds value to your home

I respect your privacy. Your information stays with me.