Did Agent Lie About Square Footage

Q: I made an offer on the house, and it was accepted. Afterwards, I checked the tax records, and discovered it is 2,184 square feet. The listing sheet says it is 2,400 square feet. I feel so angry that I am considering backing out of the deal and suing that lying listing agent. What should I do?
—Columbus, Ohio

A: I’d suggest you make a hot cup of tea, listen to some soothing music and don’t jump to conclusions. There are many possible reasons for the discrepancy; while lying may be one of them, it’s not a given. Information on tax records and listing sheets often varies, for reasons I’ll explain later. first you should understand how square footage is measured. For tax purposes, municipalities only count livable, heated space. Closets and hallways are included, but garages, attics, unfinished bonus rooms, and sun porches aren’t. Nor, usually, are basements—though some localities include walk-out basements that are finished to the standard of the rest of the house.However, there could be an error in the tax records, either because of faulty measuring or because rooms were finished or added on after the house was built without the owner pulling a permit. (If unpermitted work was done, you should insist that the owner get a code compliance inspection, and to pay for any changes that must be made.)
By June Fletcher, Oct 10, 2009 WSJ

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