Buyer beware: Price per square foot often “trickery”

October 10, 2013 10:48AM

Brokers have been asking buyers to take price-per-square-foot numbers with a grain of salt, as listings have no uniform standard for measuring square footage and are often misleading.

Some listings, for example, may include closets, hallways and even elevator shafts as part of the square footage, while others go with simply the actual amount of usable space inside an apartment. Still, “usable” can be defined in myriad ways.

Buyers and sellers often discuss price per square foot when determining overall purchase price, Dan Bamberger of The Bamberger Group told DNAinfo. “It’s the most common way people try to make a justified analysis of how much they should be paying for an apartment.”

But, Bamberger and others told the site, “It’s really more trickery than anything else.”

Bamberger recently randomly selected four apartments on the market in Greenwich Village and found that on average, floor plans were nearly 44 percent smaller than the listed square footage. He also saw a difference of almost 12 percent between square footage listed for the same unit at two different times.

Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel told DNAinfo that listing measurements tend to be between 5 and 10 percent higher than actual apartment size.

Still, he said, “there’s an expectation of precision that doesn’t exist. But it’s not like [the space] was hidden from you when you bought. It’s just another rating for the apartment.” [DNAinfo]  – Hiten Samtani