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Square footage: An empty real estate statistic?

Measuring tape may not tell a house's whole story

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My No. 1 pet peeve in real estate is the square-footage demand of the house hunter. Unless he appraises houses for a living, it's near impossible for Home Consumer Carl to accurately gauge how big a room is -- let alone a whole house -- without a tape measure. And many times, their demand for a certain square footage is unrelated to their desired use of that space. Hallways, closets, covered patios and pantries are all areas typically forgotten by buyers on a quest to purchase a 3,250-square-foot house with a movie theater and in-ground pool. Take the house in which I live, for example. It's a really nice three-bedroom, three-bath home that measures just over 3,000 square feet. That sounds like a nice little estate on paper, but I know that the back hallway that connects all the rooms of our 1955 California Ranch accounts for about 1,000 square feet of the aforementioned total space -- it could circle half of the Daytona Raceway. Toddlers have pulled a hamstring trying to mak...