This is a topic has been written many times before here on the Boston Real Estate Blog, but I see the NY Times feels its enough of an issue that they ran another article on it as well. The problem has to do with overstating square footage; specifically condos. My advice, bring a tape measure and measure it yourself and focus on the dimensions of the floorplan, if you have a Boston buyers broker make him/her do it in your presence. Never, and I mean never, take the Boston real estate listing show sheet as absolute fact. Many times, the listing broker obtains the square footage information from outside sources that are not always reliable.
NY Times reports, “The Elusive Measure Known as the Square Foot“:
The tape measure does not lie. But when it comes to measuring the square footage of New York City apartments, the tale told by the tape can be exaggerated, massaged, misrepresented and manipulated.
There are willful — and legal — tactics to make a space appear bigger on paper, like including common spaces and elevator shafts in the calculation of an apartment’s size. There are also honest mistakes that derive from historical inaccuracies, differences in how condominiums and co-ops are measured, advances in measuring technology, changes in measuring standards, and unusual layouts. Then there are outright misrepresentations.
Brokers are often careful to say they take no responsibility for listed square footage, and owners may honestly not know how large their home is. So, often, there is no obviously responsible party when discrepancies are found.
Frances Katzen, an executive vice president of Elliman, said a number of her clients had bought apartments that turned out to be smaller than they had been told. She counsels her clients to focus not on square footage, but on what similar properties in the same building have sold for in the past.