Institute of Housing Technologies
Improving the Real Estate Information Network
Is it time for ANSI to be replaced?
After 24 years as "the" residential standard, and without being nationally approved or mandated, is it time for something new? Eleven pages (5 pages of text & 6 basic sketches) to teach the complex rules of measuring residential square footage is just not enough. It's time for an update!
Everyone in the real estate industry knows the ANSI name. The surprising part is how little most people actually know about the standard, which is the name they toss out whenever anyone asks a question about square footage. They assume that if they know it, it must be from the ANSI standard. More often than not, the two are totally different.
Consumers are often cheated by agents who overstate square footage, while trying to play the price-per-square-foot game where the one with the most square footage gets the most money. Buyers find out years after they buy their home that the square footage is much less than they had been told. And, at that point, it's too late to do anything about it. It can be an expensive lesson in real estate.
This keeps on happening because the National Association of Realtors offers no rules on measuring square footage. For an industry with a form and rule for every aspect of the business, if you look for any classes, books, or guidelines on measuring homes, they are simply missing. Nothing is available to help agents understand the importance of this topic.
In those twenty-four years, if the industry leaders have not adopted or mandated the ANSI Standard, maybe it's time for a new standard. Maybe one that everyone can finally agree on, and one that protects the home buying public! If not replaced, at least updated!
Until all real estate professionals measure square footage, and report it using the same names, consumers remain at risk of over paying for real estate. Within MLS systems and in public records, we found over 100 names for finished square footage. That's crazy! Makes you think the real estate industry doesn't want consumers to understand how they calculate square footage. How this has avoided consumer protection groups is beyond me, but it's time for the real estate industry to catch up with the rest of the standardized world.
The commercial side of the real estate industry has seven (7) standards. Think about that. They have seven and the residential side struggles with having two. The ANSI standard and the American Measurement Standard are the two current options. That's the way most appraisers measure square footage, using one of those two. However, many use one of the other and don't know the difference. There's few classes that teach them the difference. The whole system needs re-inventing. Consumers need to be protected and the current hodge-podge of measurement methods simply does not do the job.
The house above can be measured in one state as 2,400 square feet; in another area as 2,460 heated living area; in another as 2,614 gross building area; in another as 2200 sqft of GLA; and on and on and on. It's an out of control system where consumers pay the price for lack of trainng in the real estate industry, and lack of a nationally mandated measurement standard, that all agents, appraisers and assessors are required to follow.
Consumer protection is missing in action on this important topic.