Treatment of Detached Workshop Under Square Footage Guidelines

QUESTION: I am listing a property for sale that includes a home and a detached garage. The garage can be accessed from the home by a covered breezeway. The garage  includes an area that is heated and air conditioned and has finished walls. The owner currently uses that area as a workshop. The owner wants me to include the square  footage of the workshop as part of the living area of the home when I list the property in the MLS. Should I do that?

ANSWER: Probably not. The North Carolina Real Estate Commission has established guidelines to assist agents in understanding their responsibilities in those instances  when they advertise the square footage of residential properties. The Commission’s guidelines note that, at a minimum, information concerning the square footage of a  dwelling should include the amount of “living area” in the dwelling as that term is defined in the guidelines. In order to be considered “living area”, the area must not only be  heated and finished, it must also be directly accessible from other “living area” either through a door or by a heated hallway or stairway. Since the garage in this example is  accessed by an open (unheated) breezeway, the workshop in all likelihood does not qualify as “living area”. However, when in doubt, we encourage agents to contact the  Commission directly. Application of the guidelines, and the “living area criteria” established by the Commission, is often difficult depending on the facts presented in a  particular transaction.

The Commission’s guidelines can be reviewed on the website of the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. Starting at the Commission’s home page, click on the link for  “Publications” and then follow the link for “Residential Square Footage Guidelines”.

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