Buyers looking for a home to buy today often turn down a listing because they think it’s priced too high relative to the livable square feet it has to offer. In some neighborhoods, like planned unit developments, price per square foot might be a fairly reliable value indicator because there is little variability in the housing stock. It’s of limited use in neighborhoods with great variability in home style, size, age and condition.
Regardless of what the sellers report as the livable square feet, the buyers usually want to know what the public record on the home says. For example, if the sellers say their house has 3,000 square feet of living space, but the public record reports only 2,300 square feet, the buyers expect an explanation for the discrepancy.
It’s not only prospective buyers who are concerned when the public record differs from what is reported in the multiple listing service. Due to recent lender tightening, many appraisers consider only legal square footage that can be verified with a building permit to establish valuation.