House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

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doss
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House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by doss »

Hi all,
We recently put in an offer for a home that was accepted by the seller. The house was being sold as 2553sqft (that includes a partially finished play area of 500sqft). Online websites (zillow, realtor.com, etc) listed the house as 2553sqft with "finished basement", but the tax records show only 2053 as livable.

Just wondering if this is a cause for concern and/or anything that should be brought up before closing or is it too late?

Thanks
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jucor
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by jucor »

Depending upon location, you might ask if the play area work was done with permits, if required (depends upon the work done and local code). Otherwise, I'd not be too worried.
wootwoot
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by wootwoot »

This is a huge cause for concern. Raise the issue and if you don't get a satisfactory answer during the 10 day inspection period you should bail on the house. Usually this means the owner put an unpermitted addition on the home. If that's the case you don't want to be a part of it when the city finds out.
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cheese_breath
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by cheese_breath »

Talk to your local tax assessor. Not sure, but I think basements weren't considered livable whether finished or not where I used to live.
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Cody
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by Cody »

Could it be a typo? Those numbers are close.
rascott
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by rascott »

Basements aren't usually considered. Guessing that's the difference.

Real estate listings on sq footage are not to be relied upon. Every listing will say something like it's believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed. Most Realtors just pull an old listing for a house and use whatever was on there last time it was sold.

Some times tax records are wrong too... which if it's low....is a good thing!


Your appraisal would also provide this....as the appraiser will physically measure.
TSR
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by TSR »

I'd assume it's the basement, but I also have a house where there was some (likely) unpermitted work and I've got more square footage than the tax records show. It's pretty common in my area which was "up and coming" for decades with a lot of unsupervised work being done. I don't really know what to do about it, but here I am.
dbr
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by dbr »

see below
Last edited by dbr on Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
dbr
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by dbr »

FWIW this article would say below grade space is not "livable" floor space. Based on this the realator's statement is mistaken and you are buying a 2053 sqft dwelling, consistent with the tax records. I would ask the real estate agent to resolve the discrepancy. It would not look to me this has anything to do with unpermitted construction but that does not mean you should not verify that any work needing a permit had one.

https://professional.sauder.ubc.ca/re_c ... easure.pdf
daheld
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by daheld »

wootwoot wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:56 am This is a huge cause for concern. Raise the issue and if you don't get a satisfactory answer during the 10 day inspection period you should bail on the house. Usually this means the owner put an unpermitted addition on the home. If that's the case you don't want to be a part of it when the city finds out.
No. It's not. It's easily to manually change the square foot listing on sites like Zillow. They mean nothing. Local tax records are what matter. It doesn't matter what the seller or real estate agent puts on Zillow, other than it's being dishonest. It doesn't change the ACTUAL square footage according to local tax authorities.

It matters, but it's absolutely not a reason to walk away from a sale.
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doss
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by doss »

I have an inspection in about 3 days. Is this something I can bring up to the inspector? I believe the minimum height (to pass code) from basement ceiling joists to floor can not be less than 7" based on documents i got from the city's website. I did actually measure that myself when I toured the home and it was 7' or a little over 7' in some other finished areas. I still don't feel confident I understand how I should feel about it, but I'll keep watching this thread. Thanks
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KyleAAA
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by KyleAAA »

Maybe it depends on the jurisdiction by my understanding unusually only square footage above grade is considered regardless of whether or not the basement finished.
chevca
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by chevca »

I don't see it as an issue for concern at all. Certainly not a "huge issue".

The county likely still thinks it is as it was when built. County assessments consist of maybe a drive by and whatever paperwork they have on the place, which is probably original plans. They don't inspect inside and out every house in the county each year nor would they on this purchase. No biggie, IMO.
chevca
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by chevca »

doss wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:19 am I have an inspection in about 3 days. Is this something I can bring up to the inspector? I believe the minimum height (to pass code) from basement ceiling joists to floor can not be less than 7" based on documents i got from the city's website. I did actually measure that myself when I toured the home and it was 7' or a little over 7' in some other finished areas. I still don't feel confident I understand how I should feel about it, but I'll keep watching this thread. Thanks
Of course you can bring it up with the inspector. In my experience, home inspectors are willing to share information and tips during the inspection. They're usually pretty knowledgeable on things like this too.

Of course, depends on the inspector and how good they are, but...
dbr
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by dbr »

doss wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:19 am I have an inspection in about 3 days. Is this something I can bring up to the inspector? I believe the minimum height (to pass code) from basement ceiling joists to floor can not be less than 7" based on documents i got from the city's website. I did actually measure that myself when I toured the home and it was 7' or a little over 7' in some other finished areas. I still don't feel confident I understand how I should feel about it, but I'll keep watching this thread. Thanks
You can certainly ask the inspector, but I don't think this has much to do with inspections and everything to do with how the agent has advertised the house, including what got on Zillow, etc. I think it is up to the agent to resolve this. If the number does not agree with standard procedures to determine livable floor space it would be in the interest of the agent to make a correction. I truly doubt it is a deliberate deception but might be an embarrassment to not be in agreement with tax records.
HomeStretch
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by HomeStretch »

What did your realtor say? Did you go to the town assessor’s office to review the property card, see if a permit was pulled/CO issued for the play area and ask the assessor how the play area is included in the assessed square footage?

In my town, if the 500 square foot play area is below grade it is not included in the “main” square footage reported on the property tax record (which is what Zillow and other online sites pickup). However in the detailed property card/assessor report, the square footage for any below grade finished space would be included and have an assessed value (at a lower $ per square foot than the finished above grade space) that’s included in the total property assessed value.

It is also common practice in real estate listings in my area for properties to be described as having “total livable space” that includes the square footage for both the above and below grade finished square footage. But all of that space has to be legal and permitted.
Last edited by HomeStretch on Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
BlueGator
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by BlueGator »

I’m currently going through a similar issue.

Many older homes in Florida have had their patios walled in creating a “Florida room”, and this gives them a square footage bump. These Florida rooms can be done with varying quality compared to the original construction (Blocked in/Framed in, Upgraded AC/or not, roofline modification/or not). The issue has come at appraisal time, the homes that have had poor quality upgrades done have a square footage bump, and the homes that remain original (no Florida room) won’t appraise because the $/sf is too high.

Do the comps for this house include furnished basement space in their $/sf equation or not.
AtlBoglehead
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by AtlBoglehead »

I've been a full-time or part-time licensed RE agent since 1983 - 36 yrs. Different locations may have different standards, but in real estate school we were taught to base sq footage on EXTERIOR to EXTERIOR measurements of HEATED AND COOLED space, regardless of floor or basement. Want to know the sq footage, measure it yourself. But notify the tax assessor only if the actual footage is less than assessed records, and then only if you are appealing for a lower assessment for tax purposes. Your appraisal will probably be fairly accurate. If you want the house at whatever sq footage it is and at the agreed-upon price, don't let this kill the deal. But you might use this discrepancy to help with negotiations to get seller to do more repairs outlined by the inspector.
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dm200
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by dm200 »

I don't know if you can do it or not - but if there are similar houses in that neighborhood that have been listed/sold - compare the real estate listing square footage with the tax records square footage.

I might also contact the local tax assessor's office to see what the rules might be on such calculations.
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by willthrill81 »

cheese_breath wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:57 am Talk to your local tax assessor. Not sure, but I think basements weren't considered livable whether finished or not where I used to live.
That was the case where we used to live as well.

As an interesting aside, appraisers in that area did not value finished basements any higher at all than completely unfinished basements. :oops:
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THY4373
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by THY4373 »

Assessors can do weird things on square footage. The last home I owned I couldn't figure out how the assessor was coming up with their number. I looked at the houses around me and still couldn't figure it out. Finally I found a document that explained how they calculated square footage and it turned out the garage space was partially included. If you had drywall in your garage then they counted 80% of the garage square footage counted as square footage for assessment purposes and that was reported in the property records. If you did not have drywall then it was 60%. Some of the houses around me had drywall and some didn't which is why I couldn't figure out the pattern until I found the document explaining it.
cshell2
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by cshell2 »

Finished basements are excluded from the taxable assessment where we live. That's 3 bedrooms a bath and a huge family room for us.
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Nate79
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by Nate79 »

The real estate listed sqrt footage doesnt have to match the taxable footage. Its very common and commonly related to basement sq ft. I would not be concerned and your agent should be able to explain the difference (and the selling agent).
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dm200
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by dm200 »

I wonder if or how such square footage might relate to homeowners insurance coverage - where the coverage would fully replace the existing home?
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by mariezzz »

You saw the house before you made your offer, correct? If you had concerns about this, why didn't you measure the rooms, etc.? I'm guessing all real estate listings have a disclaimer saying the buyer should verify all information *before making a purchase offer*. If it's a typo, I doubt you have any recourse.

Are you looking to get out of the purchase offer you made? If not, then you saw the house and you made your purchase offer, having seen the house. If you have an inspection contingency and want to get out of your purchase offer, you could likely just be unreasonable and ask for many ridiculous things to be fixed, to the point where the seller would say it's not reasonable and you'd have to decide whether to withdraw your offer based on your seller refusing to fix those things. I would not, however, expect the seller to make any significant price concession based on the square footage discrepancy.
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by mariezzz »

KyleAAA wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:23 am Maybe it depends on the jurisdiction by my understanding unusually only square footage above grade is considered regardless of whether or not the basement finished.
It very much depends on jurisdiction. I've seen many jurisdictions where the above/below grade wouldn't matter. Other factors might play a role for below grade: egress windows, ceiling height, finished/unfinished ... whether these play a role depends on both state and local laws.

I've never seen garage square footage included, but others in this thread have. That really surprised me. But I believe it. When I lived in CA, many people essentially used their garage as a basement, for either storage or extra living area (whether it met code or not to be considered a living area).
wootwoot
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by wootwoot »

daheld wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:17 am
wootwoot wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:56 am This is a huge cause for concern. Raise the issue and if you don't get a satisfactory answer during the 10 day inspection period you should bail on the house. Usually this means the owner put an unpermitted addition on the home. If that's the case you don't want to be a part of it when the city finds out.
It doesn't change the ACTUAL square footage according to local tax authorities.

It matters, but it's absolutely not a reason to walk away from a sale.
Never said that it changed the ACTUAL square footage, please reread my post.

OP, if you buy a home with unpermitted additions the city/county could come back and ask you to remove the addition or get it into compliance which can be costly. This is very dependent on local laws, but something to be aware of.
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by suemarkp »

My house has this same issue. There is a floor plan on the county site that shows the correct perimeter, but the total area isn't right. A tax assessor came by a few years ago and I tried to correct the problem. I even gave him a floor plan I made drawn to scale, but he still got it wrong. The original garage was converted to a master bedroom and a new 3 car garage built in front of it. Somehow, he did not add the master bedroom area and labeled it as garage (along with the 3 car garage). So we're about 500 sq ft larger than the tax records indicate.

I'm tired of trying to fix it. If they can't get the area right with me pointing out the issue and giving them floor plan, they don't deserve their higher tax.

When people see it, they will judge if it is big enough or not. The realty website will be the square footage I use to filter houses, and then actually looking at it is the next level. I don't think most people look at the tax records (other than assessed value), and since the county treats finished basements here differently people just ignore what the county says since it is misleading.
Mark | Kent, WA
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by rkhusky »

doss wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:53 am Hi all,
We recently put in an offer for a home that was accepted by the seller. The house was being sold as 2553sqft (that includes a partially finished play area of 500sqft). Online websites (zillow, realtor.com, etc) listed the house as 2553sqft with "finished basement", but the tax records show only 2053 as livable.

Just wondering if this is a cause for concern and/or anything that should be brought up before closing or is it too late?

Thanks
Don't worry about it. Real estate listings often have errors. The listing for our current house said 4 bedrooms, but when we walked through, the room in the basement didn't have egress windows and there was no real closet. We bought it anyway, but took the error into account in our offer. The listing for our prior house had the wrong square footage for the lot. We didn't discover that until we had already bought. Fortunately the true square footage, which we found from the plat map, was greater than what the listing showed. And when we sold the prior house, the agent used some sort of laser device to measure the rooms, which was sometimes inaccurate by a few feet (we didn't bother to correct the listing).

I presume you looked at the play area and made your offer based partially on how nicely it is finished. Don't think you would get very far in trying to get a lower price, based on the difference between assessed sq footage and listing sq footage.
Tamales
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by Tamales »

wootwoot wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:56 am This is a huge cause for concern. Raise the issue and if you don't get a satisfactory answer during the 10 day inspection period you should bail on the house. Usually this means the owner put an unpermitted addition on the home. If that's the case you don't want to be a part of it when the city finds out.
In some jurisdictions, additions below x square feet don't require a permit. So in this case it may be that only additions greater than 500 SF require permit.
chevca
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by chevca »

Tamales wrote: Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:32 am
wootwoot wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:56 am This is a huge cause for concern. Raise the issue and if you don't get a satisfactory answer during the 10 day inspection period you should bail on the house. Usually this means the owner put an unpermitted addition on the home. If that's the case you don't want to be a part of it when the city finds out.
In some jurisdictions, additions below x square feet don't require a permit. So in this case it may be that only additions greater than 500 SF require permit.
Not to mention is wasn't even an "addition" in question here. Right in the OP they stated the part about finished basement. So, it's more likely just carpet and maybe drywall added to a concrete basement. I think it's fair to say woot overreacted in this one.
dbr
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by dbr »

Suspicions that someone is trying to pull something or that unpermitted improvements have been done certainly are an over-reaction, especially considering that due-diligence checks on such things as a matter of course. From the beginning there was no mystery what footage was where.
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doss
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by doss »

thank you everyone, appreciate the feedback. Going through inspections this week!
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by SRenaeP »

dm200 wrote: Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:30 am I wonder if or how such square footage might relate to homeowners insurance coverage - where the coverage would fully replace the existing home?
Whenever I've gotten quotes, the insurance company asks what percentage of the basement is finished space. I imagine that factors into the value, replacement cost, etc.
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by jharkin »

Its been mentioned by a few posts - but where I live (Mass) this is also typical. Tax assessments only consider "above grade" space in the livable area published on the town property card. Real estate agents will add finished basement space typically on MLS/zillow listings so its normal for this number to differ.

If you go forward with the purchase the appraiser will measure everything and probably give you 3 numbers - finished space above grade, finished basement space and total space.
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by Golf maniac »

It COULD be a big deal. It really depends on the local jurisdiction. The problem with any work that does not have a permit is it means it did not get inspected. Besides possibly not being in compliance with local code is the risk of fire or other damage caused by substandard work by a contractor. Personally, I would talk to the tax assessor to make sure I understood the differences in the numbers. I would look very closely at any work that was completed without an inspection. It could be great, it could be crappy.
rich126
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by rich126 »

The sq ft thing I could never figure out. In MD I know that you can't advertise bedrooms in the basement as bedrooms if they don't have a window that is a proper size (to exit in case of emergencies).

I just sold a 4 bd 2.5 bathroom mult-level house in MD and moved back to my house in AZ that is 3 bd 2 bathrooms and according to the sq ft on the listings they are both the same size. That can't be possible. I asked an agent about it but she didn't seem interested in changing the listing. The house sold so I didn't lose any sleep over it but it never made any sense (and the MD house did not have a finished basement).

I just know from living in both places that the MD house had to be large, especially since except for the master bathroom, pretty much every room in MD was the same size or large and it had an extra bedroom that was a decent size (not the typical closet size 4th bedroom). And I can also tell from furniture placement and lack of room for some stuff.

Good luck.
2cents2
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Re: House being sold as 2553sqft livable, but tax records show 2053? Cause for concern?

Post by 2cents2 »

This has already been mentioned up thread several times, but it may be the way the county considers the space for tax purposes. My county has this on their tax assessment: Above Grade Living Area Total Sq. Ft.

In your due diligence phase, you may be able to look at the assessment online.
Also, your county may list permits online (if that is a concern).
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