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Where does Zillow get the home square footage data?

  • February 07 2011 - Westborough
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Answers (4)

When you get to condominiums, gross living area (GLA) gets even more "hairy" and muddled.  That's why, as an appraiser - brokers and homeowners should not be too shocked to see me actually quickly measure the insides of condominiums (not each room, just the interior dimensions from front to back & left to right).  Assessor records frequently just agree with the original architecture's GLA. Well, very frequently I've found that the local Assessor records incorrectly include in the GLA things such as a balcony or a deck - and sometimes even a finished basement or a storage area. Not long ago I did an appraisal for a sale on a 1-story garden-style condo in Melrose. My interior measurements came up with 602+ square feet (GLA). The MLS listing showed 710 square feet (GLA), and the assessor records also showed 710 square feet.  The architecture's 1985 drawing also showed 710 square feet. But the dimensions on that same drawing added up to 603 square feet - the same as I measured it to be.  From an appraiser's standpoint - since we are looking for "apples-to-apples" this large discrepancy of GLA required that I seek out all the architectural sketches for the comparable sales I used as well.  They too needed GLA square foot adjustments downwards. In general, I think this lack of attention to detail by most Assessors regarding condominiums GLA's (not so often with 1-4 family non-condo homes) is pretty well widespread in my North Shore market areas.
  • February 16 2011
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As they have stated, it usually comes from the assesors records. However, keep in mind that an owner can claim a property and update the information themselves.  Use Zillow as a guide. 
  • February 07 2011
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It may be getting them from the available public records - unfortunately, public records aren't always correct. If a surveyor never accounts for home improvements, the public record is not updated. For example, if you've finished off your basement, and added a sun room, that adds square footage to the house. If it is not easily visible from the outside and the surveyor never goes in, public record doesn't reflect the improvements..
  • February 07 2011
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Online town data which of course can be incorrect. If your home is not properly displayed claim the home and update the facts!
  • February 07 2011
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