You’ve decided to sell, and now your realtor comes to you to say, ” your home is worth less than you thought. The biggest discrepancy is the square footage of the home.”  Is this a typical situation?  ”Yes!'”   So what can a homeowner do to make sure there home is accurate in public records so that they can ask top dollar for their home.

Step (1)  Contact your local building and safety department, (some keep excellent record on line, like Los Angeles City’s website, Los Angeles Building and Safety), other smaller cities like Simi Valley or Calabasas require you to walk in to look at permits. 

Step (2) reconcile your permits to the square footage of your home.   If you can not do it easily, or you prefer to have a professional handle this, contact a Residential Appraiser and for a fee he/she will arrange a date  to measure your home for you and confirm the square footage.

Step (3) Set your sale price based on your research.

The actual square footage can make a difference in value it can increase or decrease the value of the property by thousands.  Additionally, most homeowners are not aware that if the Assessors states that your property is 2000 square feet, and you say its 3000, you are more than likely only insured for 2000 square feet.  In a fire, they may only cover the permitted square footage.  

What then is a homeowner to do when they realize that there home has 100’s of square feet not included in permits?  

According to a local Building and Safety Inspector,  a homeowner can request to legalize the additional square footage, If it meets all local building and safety codes, and from that point on would be  considered “permitted space”.  (If you decide to go this route, I would recommended you contact a contractor that specializes in retrofitting for permits, prior to contacting your local Building and Safety Department. Be sure, the space can be legalized, if it can’t don’t move forward and be prepared to sell  your home and disclose unpermitted construction.   If it can be permitted, you have just improved your chances of getting a higher price for your home, even if it cost you a few dollars.   

 Alternatively if you have no interest in the hassles of looking up your permits,measuring and/or contacting Building and Safety,  you can disclose it is not permitted and be prepared as the seller to adjust the price as appropriate for the market value of a home with unpermitted construction.

Note:  recently, a court decision discussed disclosing square footage issues.  See sq foot fraud to learn more about the court decision in 2015 regarding disclosure of square footage issues. Invest wisely in your home, and know that obtaining a building permit can make a huge difference when you go to sell.  

My home size is different than the Assessor records- Sq footage and Appraisals