Have you ever noticed that almost every condo lists the square footage but coops rarely do? Many potential buyers will want to know the square footage of an apartment, so why is it only sometimes included and is it really all that meaningful?
Square Footage in Condos vs. Co-ops:
Condos are required to include a description in their offering plan of the methodology used to calculate the square footage of all units. Legally, when selling a condo unit, the developer or sponsor must state the specific square footage of the property being sold because the buyer is literally purchasing that exact space. Because of this, almost all condo listings, including resales, report the exact square footage of the apartment as outlined in the offering plan.
In co-ops, as we have discussed before, a buyer is purchasing shares in the corporation that owns the building; they are simply being given a proprietary lease to reside in a particular unit. Therefore, there is typically no official historical or legal record that lists the exact square footage of each apartment and how it was derived. Because of this, many brokers will decide not specify the square footage when listing a co-op apartment, since any number they use will only be an approximation and may vary greatly depending on the methodologies used by the person commissioned to diagram or measure the space.
All Square Feet Not Equal:
Even if measured properly, square footage can vary widely depending on the methodology. Some measure from the outside of the outer walls in (meaning all walls of the apartment add to the square footage even though you can't live inside the concrete/brick), some measure the space within the inside of the exterior walls (so all interior wall space is counted, though not the exterior walls), others measure livable space by adding the dimensions of the floorspace, which seems the most useful but even then the figures can vary depending on whether the measurements go only to the window sill or include the sill all the way to the window. Because many different professionals vary on their standard of measurement, there is not one right number. We always recommend people look at the actual usable space, and place less emphasis on total square footage. Beyond that, even with identical layouts, two apartments can feel vastly different depending on ceiling height and size/number of windows.