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Are Square Footage Numbers Reliable?

Dear Monica: I am looking at properties to buy and often see multiple square footage numbers cited. What number is reliable? David G.
 
Dear David: It has always been the case that square footage numbers attached to properties often vary depending on the source of the data. This is especially true for older properties that may or may not have been expanded over the years. Sometimes the public record is used; sometimes architect’s plans. Even appraisal numbers can vary depending on the appraiser and the time it was done.
 
What you need is for the property you buy to appraise at purchase price, regardless of whether there are different square footage numbers cited. The discrepancies shouldn’t change the value.

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