Decoding The MLS & Tax Roll Square Footage Numbers

The square footage of a house is one of the most important factors that Realtors use when valuing property. Here in Miami, we find that there is a lot of confusion between the different types of square footage – Adjusted, Living, Total, Building. To make things more complicated, occasionally the tax rolls do not accurately reflect the real square footage of a property. This can happen when a homeowner completes an addition to the home and the city has not yet updated their records. Therefore, it is important that agents and consumers educate themselves on the different figures, how to calculate them and how to properly use them.

DEFINITION OF SQUARE FOOTAGE NUMBERS USED ON THE MLS:

  1. Adjusted Square Feet = Square Feet of Living Area + 1/3 of the SF for all covered patios/porches + 1/2 of the garage SF. This is the standard number that realtors use when valuing a home and calculating “Sale Price/Square Foot”. 
  2. Living Area Square Feet = Total finished living area (with AC) Not to include open porches, balconies, terraces carports or garages. This should be the lowest number of the 3.
  3. Total Area Square Feet = The sum total of all measured areas including living area, covered porches, covered patios, carports & garages. This should be the highest number of the 3.

DEFINITION OF SQUARE FOOTAGE NUMBERS USED ON TAX ROLLS:

  1. Adjusted Square Feet = Square Feet of Living Area + 1/3 of the SF for all covered patios/porches + 1/2 of the garage SF.
  2. Building Sq. Ft. = Total finished living area (with AC) Not to include open porches, balconies, terraces carports or garages.
  3. Total Sq. Ft. =The sum total of all measured areas including living area, covered porches, covered patios, carports & garages.

To protect the public, most reputable brokers are not allowed to put a different square footage number on the MLS than exists on the tax rolls unless there is an appraiser’s sketch and and a letter from an architect that verifies the new number. If this rule were not in place, realtors would be free to put whatever square footage number they wanted on the listing, which could make their property look more appealing to buyers.  When buying a property, it is essential that you compare the tax roll numbers to the MLS figures in order to make sure you are not being mislead by the size of the home. If you see a discrepancy, ask for documentation of the difference.

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Riley Smith has been the #1 Top Producing Coconut Grove Realtor for over 10 years and knows the market inside and out.  If you would like to buy or sell real estate in Coconut Grove, please contact us at 305-342-1623 or send us a message here.