How is Co-op Square Footage Calculated in NYC?

Co-op apartments generally do not have official square footage numbers, although listing agents will often list a size in their marketing materials. Don’t trust these numbers because not only are they purely estimates that are inflated by at least 10% to 20%, but also because they’re often based off of nothing more than what the seller told the listing agent or what the previous listing agent used.

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Do Co-op Apartments Have Official Square Footage Numbers?

Co-op apartments generally do not have official square footage numbers listed anywhere.

Unlike condos, you won’t find an official square footage number listed in the building’s original co-op offering plan, and you can’t simply look up the unit’s property tax bill to see what the city says the unit’s size is.

Remember that this is partly because co-op apartments are not considered to be real property. Co-op apartment owners are actually tenant shareholders of the co-op corporation that owns the entire building.

As a result, many co-ops likely never bothered to include specific square footages for individual apartments in their offering plans.

This means that generally speaking, anytime you see a square footage being marketed or represented on a co-op apartment listing, you can assume that it’s just an estimate.

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Where Do Listing Agents Get Coop Square Footage From?

Listing agents typically get the square footage figures they use on their listings from the seller or from a previous listing by another agent for the apartment (i.e. the previous listing agent’s estimate), or from the listing of another apartment of the same line in the building.

This often is done with honest intentions as listing agents will literally have nothing else to go on.

Sellers are usually well intentioned as well, though it’s interesting to sometimes see the size of an apartment creep up over time with successive listing agents.

Sure, more conservative agents might opt to skip having a square footage figure listed at all; however, this hurts the marketing of the property as many home buyers screen for listings of a certain size.

As a result, it’s typically beneficial to be able to list as square footage number on a listing.

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Are Listing Agents Liable for Misrepresentation?

No. Listing agents are generally free from liability even if buyers feel like they’ve inflated the square footage because properties are sold as is in New York.

Floorplans and listing descriptions typically have disclaimers such as the below which make it explicitly clear that the marketing materials provided are for informational purposes only and are estimates, and that the buyer is free to do their own due diligence.

Disclaimer: Square footage numbers are only estimates. If a potential purchaser is concerned about the square footage of the property, purchaser must engage a professional to assist him or her in calculating and understanding the methodology of calculating square footage.

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Furthermore, purchase contracts in New York make it explicitly clear that properties are sold as is without any warranties or representations, and that the buyer has done their own due diligence.

As a result, a buyer can’t simply acknowledge and sign all of that and then come back later saying that the square footage wasn’t represented accurately!

Purchaser acknowledges that Purchaser has entered into this Contract without relying upon any promises, statements, estimates, representations, warranties, or other inducements, expressed or implied, which are not set forth in this Contract.

Pro Tip: This advice applies for condos as well, despite the fact that condo units typically have an “official” square footage listed somewhere. We’ve seen listing agents get away with listing a condo for 10% to 20% more than what the offering plan says. Do your due diligence!

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How Should Coop Buyers Calculate Square Feet?

Co-op apartment buyers should not rely on listed square footages or what sellers or listing agents tell them when valuing a potential purchase. Instead, buyers should make their own estimates and measurements.

Some buyers will go so far as to bring in an architect or draftsman to make a more reliable estimate of square footage before proceeding with an offer. This of course assumes that the listing agent and seller is fine with the buyer doing this, and doesn’t have other more pliant buyers to work with.

Many buyers are satisfied with simply doing a spot check of the listed square footage by calculating a rough square footage based on the room dimensions listed in the marketing floor plan. This isn’t super accurate by any means, but can give you a heads up if the listed square footage is way off from what could be possible given the room sizes.

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Other buyers simply use their gut to compare co-op apartments with similar condo listings (where square footages are usually listed) to get an internal sense of how big approximately a co-op apartment is.

Remember however that square footage isn’t measured uniformly, even between different condo buildings.

A condo’s original offering plan will specific how square footage is measured in the building.

The method can vary dramatically from building to building. Some pre-war buildings may be more conservative and list interior or even usable square footage.

Other new development buildings might be super liberal and include not just the wall space but also common elements such as hallways and elevator banks into the square footage.

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Regardless of what you choose to do, don’t be a difficult buyer by trying to pin the listing agent down on a number, or grilling them too hard on how they arrived at that number.

Can you please provide any additional information on the square footage of the overall apartment? You mentioned that it was measured as part of this listing. In eyeballing the floorplan, it looks to be closer to ~1700 sf (adding up the 4 boxes below or estimating the whole footprint is 40′ x 55-60′ or 2200-2400sf and ~25% isn’t part of the actual unit).

Emailing something like the above to the listing agent will not only annoy them, but demonstrate that you either did not read the disclaimer or are maliciously trying to get them in trouble for misrepresentation. Don’t be that buyer!

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Disclosure: Hauseit and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, financial and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The services marketed on Hauseit.com are provided by licensed real estate brokers and other third party professional service providers. Hauseit LLC is not a licensed real estate broker nor a member of any multiple listing service (MLS).

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