Real Estate Buyer Beware: Exaggerated Square Footage?

Real Estate Buyer Beware: Exaggerated Square Footage?


When it comes to real estate, people will exaggerate just about anything.

All in the name of making a sale – it’s fair game.

This is no different than everyday life.

We know this to be the case with men and the size of their trucks. Or guts. Women may do so with the size of their purses.

We know both sexes make themselves taller than they are. “What’s the difference between a few inches?”

Whether that’s acceptable behavior is a topic for another day. Should we be OK with the constant mistruths people throw out there?

In the world of business this nothing new either. To work to make something better than that it is. If it sweetens the deal and the money you get back, why wouldn’t you? If you make yourself better and seem more valuable, more power to you.

That happens on a constant basis in the world of real estate. What agent do you go with? Who should I trust? Who will give me the best deal and make the most money?

What may come as a surprise for some is people exaggerate the size of the square footage of their home. In some cases, people actually fudge the numbers to make it seem SMALLER than it is.

Twin Cities real estate agent Ross Kaplan said he saw that exact situation a few days ago. He said on his blog that after previewing a home for a client in Wayzata that there was no way the home was 7,000 square feet. As Kaplan thought, there was no way that was the case.

When he called the listing agent, the home actually measures closer to 9,000. The listing agent told Kaplan that she intentionally reduced the size to not scare off prospective buyers.

How anyone can tell the difference between 7,000 and 9,000 square feet is incredible. At that size, how could you possibly tell the difference? It would be like walking through an apartment listed at 1,300 square feet and saying, “Wait a minute, this is actually 1,500.” How could you possibly tell the difference?

The other question that arises from this is how often does this problem happen?

According to Kaplan, “in Minnesota for over a decade, something like 95% of the time a property’s square foot on MLS is accurate to within a few percentage points, max, of the actual square feet.”

Kaplan says that more than 95 percent of the time people exaggerate on the high side.

It would be interesting to see what the statistics show for the nation (if you have any idea, please leave us a comment below and share your experiences with this).

One can speculate as to why that happens. The longer a home sits on the market, what’s the best way to get people interested if they’re not? Make the home a little bigger than it is.

If you want to make the home more attractive right off the bat and you know people may get turned off by the size, make it bigger.

Rest assured, people have fudged certain aspects of themselves to make them seem better than they are. From gut size to height, nothing is off limits.

In the world of business, the gloves come off. You have to adapt and get stronger or wilt away.

In the world of real estate, you now have to keep a close eye on the square footage of a home you are interested in as well.

What you see may be as it appears.