Why Co-ops Don’t List Square Footage

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December 9, 2020
why co-ops don't list square footage

If you’re in the market for a co-op, you might have noticed something missing from their listings…the square footage. Sometimes even agents are hesitant to give an official number. It’s one of the quirks of buying in NYC. Find out why co-ops don’t list square footage below. 

Many co-ops do not have official square footage in the offering plan

Sometimes co-ops don’t list square footage simply because they do not have an official square footage listed in the building’s offering plan. Many buildings in NYC, especially prewar, were built long before that measurement was consistently calculated. 

For condos and new construction, buyers can find the square footage listed in Schedule A of their offering plan.

Square footage calculations can vary widely

It’s not uncommon for square footage calculations to be a bit inflated to make the unit more attractive to buyers. In older units with odd angles and other floorplan quirks, it’s easy for the numbers to get fudged. 

Unlike condos, which are required to disclose how square footage of the unit was calculated, there is no official oversight for co-ops. This means that the square footage may not always be measured using livable space. For example, instead of using interior walls to calculate square footage, exterior walls and hallways, or yards might be included. Further complicating the process is that appraisers may also come up with different calculations for the same unit. 

Fear of legal liability

Perhaps one of the biggest deterrents for not listing square footage is the prospect of legal liability. With so much gray area surrounding the way square footage is calculated, it is too risky to list square footage for co-ops. If a buyer disputes or challenges the listed square footage as inaccurate, it could spell legal troubles for the agent. 

Frederick W. Peters, CEO of Warburg realty explains in “Fastidious For Footage” that a mid 90s lawsuit in which an agent was sued by a buyer for misrepresentation of a unit’s square footage, changed the industry. Disputing the square footage can also be used as a loophole for buyers to get out of a contract. If square footage is listed, there is typically a disclaimer stating that the calculation is an estimate. 

Tips for calculating square footage during your home search

If you don’t have an appraiser readily available, there are a few hacks to get a ballpark estimate of the square footage of a co-op unit. Using a floor plan with listed dimensions of the interior rooms, multiply the length of the room by the width of the room. Once that has been done for each room, add them together to get an estimate of the total square footage. 

Another option is to compare similarly priced co-ops within the same area. If they have floor plans with measurements listed, you can do a quick calculation using the method above and compare the total square footage. If the totals are fairly close, chances are the square footage isn’t being heavily exaggerated in the unit you are considering. 

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