Condominium living area calculations always questionable
Sep 2011 13

You’d think something as simple as the square footage of a condominium unit would be simple to calculate.

Unfortunately, it’s not.

The best way to know the size of a condo is to check the public record, the Registry of Deeds. Look at the original master deed for the building. Included will be square footage of each of the units along with the percentage ownership in the building.

Contractors’ designs often have this information, as well. And, City Hall records it as part of each parcel’s property tax information.

Real estate agents include the square footage on each sales listing, but the information may be questionable at best. Often, the seller provides the information, either from memory or best guess. The agent wants to be honest, but might be in a rush or unwilling to do the work necessary to find out an accurate number.

Which is why you will see it always as “estimated living area” or “estimated square footage”. There agent is abdicating responsibility for the accuracy of the number. And, that’s not a bad thing. The buyer should confirm any and all information when buying a home.

Does it matter the square footage? In some ways, no. Are you buying square footage or are you buying a condo? The amount of square footage doesn’t have anything to do with number of bedrooms or bathrooms or how many windows it has. But, square footage is a good way of comparing similar properties, which is why it matters. It matters when you are buying, it matters when you’re selling.

Before making an offer, check the details. Review the master deed (it’s available online). Your attorney should check it out after you have an accepted offer, but you should read it beforehand, so that there’s no surprises.

The more information you have, the better equipped you are to make a wise and prudent home-buying decision.

Above, a model unit at The Clarendon, in Back Bay Boston.

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