Confirming Square Footage is Critical When Purchasing Chicago Real Estate

The majority of my clients have one thing in particular at the top of their real estate wish list: square footage. Generally, the more the better. And while a listing sheet should accurately list the square footage of a home for sale, it’s still important for a buyer to do his or her due diligence to confirm that number.
Square Footage Should be Confirmed in Chicago Real Estate
Unfortunately, it’s not terribly uncommon for a real estate listing to claim a square footage that differs from official records of a property. There’s even a case on the west coast in which the buyer expected a home to have a whopping 5,000 more square feet than it did in reality.
For Chicago real estate buyers, it’s important that you have an independent assessment to determine the square footage of a home you want to buy. There are plenty of realtors who don’t list the square footage at all, or they may pick up the number from a previous sale without actually verifying it’s validity.
All-cash deals don’t require an appraisal or any sort of evaluation to confirm the number, so discrepancies are not unheard of. Be aware that many realtors—especially inexperienced ones—may forget to put in a contract that a cash sale is contingent on an appraisal, thus taking away any “out” you have if the number isn’t what the seller or selling agent claims it to be.
But what happens if you’re in a multiple-offer situation and the time for an appraisal weakens your offer? There are ways around this issue, even if you’re purchasing with cash. I would be happy to discuss the ways you can protect yourself if you’re competing for a “hot” luxury Chicago home.
What’s Included in Real Estate Square Footage
It’s not necessarily the seller or selling agent is trying to deceive potential buyers (though that isn’t unheard of, either). More commonly, there is a discrepancy between what is calculated into a square footage number. Some of the areas that might be included in an inflated number are:
Patios: Outdoor space should NOT be included when considering how large the home or condo is, period.
Garage: For a Chicago townhome, the square footage of the garage IS included, since it is contained in the home. However, a one- or two-garage still isn’t living space, so I immediately let my clients know that a property with garage space should be reduced by 200-400 square feet. This becomes trickier when you’re purchasing a very large property, and you may be inclined to confirm the size of the garage and whether that measurement is included in the reported square footage.
Balconies: The space afforded by a balcony should NOT be included in the square footage of a property.
Below-grade living space: This is another tricky one. Nearly all realtors include the below-grade space in square footage, but I still think it’s important for buyers to know how much of that is accounted for in this space. Typically, when pricing a home, below-grade level living space is priced lower per square foot than the main house. So that could make a big difference if you’re looking at a very large space.
I have worked with many developers and on a number of construction projects, and would be happy to discuss in more detail how that number is determined.
If you’re unsure of how to confirm the square footage of a Chicago home for sale, contact me and I would be happy to walk you through the process. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at