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Entry 2305.2 - Calculating Square Footage in Residential Properties, Part 2

Calculating Square Footage in Residential Properties, Part 2

The NC Real Estate Commission (NCREC) believes the primary benefits and purpose of the

“Guidelines” is to “encourage greater uniformity and accuracy in determining and reporting

the square footage of residential properties.” The intended result is to better satisfy real

estate consumers with anticipated fewer complaints and problems associated with the

measuring, calculating, and reporting of square footage in residential properties. North

Carolina was the first state to adopt its own square footage “Guidelines.”

The complaints alleging the misrepresentation of the square footage in a residential property

have been based on different causes. Sometimes the inaccuracy is due to carelessness on

the part of brokers, and sometimes brokers have improperly relied on the square footage

reported by a third party (the seller, previous listings, tax records, etc.). However, frequently

the reason is a lack of understanding by brokers of the proper method for determining the

square footage in the residence.

Due to the increasing number of complaints filed with the NCREC an article was published

in the NCREC Real Estate Bulletin (Volume 23 Issue #1, Spring of 1992) entitled “Reporting

Accurate Square Footage is Agent’s Responsibility”. This article was an early attempt by the

NCREC to emphasize the importance of accurately reporting square footage in single-family

residential properties and the responsibility that the listing broker (and his/her firm) has

when electing to report the square footage of the listed residence. Read the article here.

“The square footage of a property is important in at least two ways: It is a primary factor in

determining the market value of the property, and it is a convenient "yardstick" by which prospective buyers and tenants decide whether a property has sufficient space to satisfy

their needs. Measured in square feet, the size is a material fact that must be accurately

disclosed when used in advertising property for sale or lease and the responsibility for

providing this accurate information is that of the listing broker.” The article goes on to state

that if the broker utilizes tax records as their source of square footage of the property “this

practice is not acceptable under Real Estate License Law”, including “information provided

by the previous broker should never be assumed to be correct, nor is it acceptable to

assume the accuracy of tax records, blueprints, or old MLS sheets. Accuracy of the material

facts of every property listed for sale should be verified by the broker responsible for accepting the listing on behalf of the real estate firm, because the listing broker, the listing

firm, and the seller are all liable for any information presented on the property.”

The article concludes with, “it is your responsibility to yourself, your firm, and the seller to

personally measure the property and accurately calculate the square footage. Anything less

may subject you to a charge of negligent misrepresentation should the advertised square

footage prove to be incorrect.”

As you read and re-read this article, pay attention, and note that square footage is

considered a “Material Fact” that must be accurately disclosed when “Reported.”

Additionally, the listing broker will be held accountable for the accuracy of square footage

information the listing broker “Reports” to prospective purchasers – including information

obtained by purchasers from property data sheets and MLS data banks. Such “Reporting”

includes ALL oral and written communication. When used in advertising property “For Sale”

or “For Lease,” the listing broker is expected to personally measure the properties they list

and accurately calculate their square footage or employ competent 3 rd parties to do so.

Listing brokers must not rely on tax records, information from a previous property listing, or

representations of the seller or others.

The NCREC will hold the Listing Broker responsible for any form of “Reporting” square

footage in a residential property regardless of who actually measured the residence.

Note: VIc will be teaching a 4 hour Elective Course on the topic of Square Footage Guidelines exclusively for START School of Real Estate. Classes will be posted soon at

The above does not constitute Legal Advice. Therefore, find a competent attorney for legal advice.


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