Vail Daily column: Home is smaller than we thought |

Vail Daily column: Home is smaller than we thought

Joan Harned

Dear Joan: After months and months of searching, we have finally found the perfect home. We have it under contract and have received the appraisal for review. The appraiser measured the property and says it is about 100 square feet smaller than was represented in all of the marketing material. Now we feel a little like we are being cheated and maybe we should get a discount on the price. Our Realtor said we could try, but he does not think we will be successful. How should we feel about this and what would you do?

Dear Square Footage Concerns,

Unfortunately, you are not the only one confused that there really is no universally applied standard for measuring square footage. The American National Standards Institute method of measuring a house uses the exterior measurements of the home. This method is usually recommended by the National Association of Home Builders and may come out with a larger total square footage than the method of measuring each room and coming up with an aggregate total. Measuring the interior of rooms generally excludes about 6 inches for every wall, which may or may not be added back in to the final total. ANSI only counts habitable space that is finished and heated and does not count patios, porches, garages or unfinished storage rooms or basements. However, developers may choose to include what areas they want on their promotional materials for a project, but usually with a disclosure. Now you can see that advertising square footage is a big issue for Realtors.

There have been very large lawsuits in the past, so the Colorado Real Estate Commission has come up with a separate form called the square footage disclosure that we sign on every home purchased. Hopefully, you received one and signed off on it after your Realtor explained it.

The first section is to be checked if the Realtor did the measurements and then the Realtor is to disclose which method he or she used, and there are five choices. I have never seen this section used by a Realtor.

Then the second paragraph ­— one that is almost always checked, reads that the Realtor is relying on another source for the square footage published, and the Realtor ought to mark the source used.

Right below where the square footage is filled in, the form reads, “Measurement is for the purpose of marketing, may not be exact and is not for loan, valuation or other purpose. If exact square footage is a concern, the property should be independently measured.” In my opinion, even seeing different calculation of square footage, you are still getting the exact same house you fell in love with. In most cases, no one is trying to cheat anyone else — it’s just an imperfect system we use for calculation. I hope you will go forward and totally enjoy your wonderful new home. Happy holidays!

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. She has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and is a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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