You may have noticed that square footage can vary when reviewing records for a property. There are multiple sources that may list a variety of square footage. These include county records, prior listings on the internet, an appraisal, and floor plan. Sometimes the variance is very small but in some cases, there can be a big discrepancy. Usually, a large variance occurs when there has been an addition, remodel or a new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) has been added to the property. If an improvement was made without a permit, the county may not be aware of the increase and would therefore not record the change. If permits were filed, there may be a lag time between when the construction is completed and when the county updates the records. Lots may also vary depending on surveys, deed changes and other factors.
Often, buyers and sellers use "average price per foot" to help determine property values. If a floor plan shows 2300 SF but the county only shows 1800 SF, there could be a discrepancy of $500,000. At $1000 X 2300 SF = $2,300,000 and $1000 X 1800 SF = $1,800,000. If a buyer is not aware that there are other measurement sources, they may feel that they were mislead into paying more for less space.
To address the potential discrepancies and any attempt to mislead, the California Association of Realtors created a disclosure form that is provided by the Seller to the Buyer. The form is called Square Footage and Lot Size Disclosure and Advisory (SFLS). It warns the buyer of possible variances and then asks the Seller to disclose all known square footage sources.
Both Buyer and Seller sign the form and retain the it for future reference. As a note, the agents do not have expertise in determining the exact square footage and lot size and do not verify the accuracy of any numerical statements regarding square footage, room dimensions, or lot size, or the location of boundaries.
I hope this was helpful!