There are certain rules to the marketing of real estate that are designed to prevent buyer confusion and to protect sellers from misrepresenting their properties, but sometimes real estate isn’t so black and white. Here are some areas to question.
Additions. Added square footage such as a bumped-out first floor master or den should have accompanying building permits that have been signed off by city inspectors. This prevents you from buying a home with shoddy construction. To confirm, tax roll data should include the updates.
Conversions. Some sellers gain more living area by converting the garage, but not all conversions are properly permitted. You may have more living space, but the loss of a garage should be reflected in the pricing.
Guest houses and garage quarters. Detached guest house or garage quarters aren’t typically aren’t counted in the square footage of the main home but can be counted as “other features.” As a buyer, don’t assume you’re buying an Airbnb goldmine; such rentals may or may not be allowed in your HOA or town.
Basements. Most basements are below ground level and aren’t counted in the square footage of main house features. One reason for this is that any “room” must have an entrance and exit point, in case of fire, whether it’s finished or unfinished.
From state to state, real estate customs vary. The best rule of thumb is to verify, verify, verify. Cross check listing data with tax records, copies of permits, and seller’s disclosures for accuracy.