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Assessors And MLS Including Basements In GLA

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Jason Ward

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
May 16, 2012
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Pennsylvania
Over the past few years, a disturbing trend has been occurring here in South Eastern PA. The Assessors have begun included finished basements in the recorded GLA of the houses, without any form of disclosure that the basement has been considered and included in the GLA. Sellers and agents have been doing this in the MLS as well, but it is now doubly compounded by the fact that the recorded GLA in the MLS may be extrapolated directly from the public record data, which of course includes the inflated GLA of the added basement from the assessor.

Now I can't even rely on referring to the public record data when I think the MLS data is wrong, because the public record data is equally wrong. This is leading to comp search results that are not credible, and leaves no way to find more credible ways to search for comparables.

Have any of you experienced similar issues? How are you going about verifying that the recorded GLA isn't including finished basement area? Thank you all for your time.
 

residentialguy

Elite Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Minnesota
It's not to hard to tell if you can get the foundation size. GLA of ranches, split foyers, split levels, etc will typically be the foundation size plus bump outs. 2 story homes are typically nearly double the foundation, less open spaces and partial levels.
 

Meandering

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2006
Professional Status
Real Estate Agent or Broker
State
Pennsylvania
Our tax assessor, allocating land to condos and taxing it. Can't figure a townhouse from a condo without pulling the deed or even multiple deeds until you get one that actually states if the land is owned by the unit owner or not.

.Otherwise, search your MLS by both, your GLA parameters, and your Gross Building Parameters. Pick the comps that look the most similar to the subject and start calling agents.

.
 

Riick

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Delaware
They do that in Delaware, but the assessor's office is fairly random about it.
Local MLS has a spot for AGENTS to put the basement square footage, but instead what we get is: "Basement Full, Partial, Partially finished" - as in ? What ?
I love it when a 900 sq.ft. Ranch shows up in the MLS as 1,800 sq.ft. (including finished basement)

Luckily, I can look at the online assessor's sketch (takes 5 minutes @), which gives me the footprint, and a strong hint as to what's really going on.

WHY is this going on? Follow the money, more square footage = higher taxes.
Do the Agents give a hoot that this makes our job exponentially more difficult?
Don't bet your Bippy on it.
 

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
(Here)Assessor segregates SF of basement -finished or not- on field card. Realtors OTOH, include finished basement in heated SF, even when asserting the SF source is "assessor" or "appraiser"
 
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norapp

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
Each county here does it differently. One (Warren) is pretty consistent with only above grade counted. The realtors put whatever they feel like even though tax records in this county are pretty accurate. The other very rural county (Washington) includes just about anything attached to the home including enclosed porch areas, breezeways and some basement. It's a way of taxing the homeowners more because there is no industry to get tax dollars from. It can be very challenging and if I can't see some sort of google street image or a picture on the tax records I charge more. If there is a possibility of not having good comps and having to make a return trip I try and cover my bases. Google Earth used to have a measuring tool that you could use to measure roof lines. Ever since they did an update I have not been able to access the site the same way. I have a standard comment in my reports about tax records, MLS records and public records not always being accurate and I utilize what I feel is the most accurate.
 

Sid Holderly

Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Indiana
I often refer to the assessor sketch. Agents are especially bad on waterfront property about including basements in living area. Our MLS has Main level, above level, basement and finished basement, & total finished area fields that now only accept a numerical input which has helped, but they still do not fill them incorrectly. We can easily report incorrect data to the MLS administrator and they sometimes get the agent to correct it. Most agents state according to assessor which might be 60% correct. Various Counties various methods, some no longer report room count or bedroom count, most still give bathroom count but whether it is full or partial is more difficult to parse.

Second-floor voids are often only decipherable through included MLS pictures.
 

Mike Kennedy

Elite Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2003
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
Residential Total Building area includes Above and Below Square Footage; finished and unfinished segregated then combined. Gross Living Area Above Grade is what that says. Combining Below and Above Grade is intentionally misleading e.g. finished below grade Basements are still below grade Basements, above grade finished living area is still above grade.

Assessors and Reelators, at least in this Market do not based calculations on ANSI Standards. The largest multi-county Board of Reelators on both sides of the lower Hudson River issued an edict earlier this year stating the above and threatening Monetary Fine$$ for continued misprepresentation of a Dwellings Characteristics - WHEN a complaint is received. (Fat Chance).

The faces change, the chairs and the game remains the same. I sleep well knowing that for coming on 25 years (in March) I've depicted dwellings in accordance with ANSI, and (knock on wood) with zero challenges or complaints by sellers, owners, attorneys, lenders, or "fellow" review appraiser or brokers, or agents were made. Above Grade GLA is what it is by accepted, recognized definition.

Having said that, IF the Competitive Sale/market data clearly indicates local buyers routinely and characteristically pay the same $$ Price for Below Grade and Above Grade Finished Areas - so be it. That does not magically turn a 2,000sf 1 story Ranch with a 2 car basement garage and 1600sf finished basement into a 3,600sf GLA (Above Grade) SF Dwelling.
 
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