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Sellers fibbing about size

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 25, 2014 07:02 AM

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Let's just say some homes are too big to be true.

Greater Boston is the land of older homes without a lot of space.

So there is a built-in incentive for sellers to stretch the truth when it comes to the square footage of their homes.

And it looks like some sellers are doing just that.

RB is happily ensconced in her own small but cute bungalow in a Boston suburb. And she is amazed with some of the liberties sellers to make their small homes look larger.

The most common tactic is rolling the basement into the living space.

However, it's not counted as living space when it comes to paying your property taxes and, as far as marketing a house goes, should be considered "bonus space" at best.

Certainly it gives a misleading picture - there is a big difference between a legitimate, 1,900- square-foot house and another that is including a 400 square foot basement room. Then it's really just 1,500 square feet of living space, as most people understand it.

Yes, real estate is pricey in the Boston area, but most buyers aren't interested in spending big money for basement space, however nice it is.

Here's RB's note to me:

I'm noticing that a lot of small homes exaggerate their square footage - adding in below grade basement family rooms, attic bedrooms (where the ceiling is clearly only 5 feet at the peak) and sun rooms as part of the legal living space.

A 1200 sq ft cape suddenly expands to 1900 square feet by adding the basement play room, basement laundry room and screen porch.

The price is also a lot higher than similar homes in the neighborhood. However, when you figure price per square foot, that house suddenly looks like a great deal since the square footage is 35% more :) Upon verification at the assessor's website, it's usually pretty clear the square footage was "enhanced.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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