Have you noticed that when you’re doing a home or apartment search in Chicago that the square footage is rarely listed? This drives me batty and, in truth, makes me really angry.  When we moved to Chicago I wanted a home above a certain square footage as we have two big dogs and are used to a lot of space.   It was so frustrating that most listings didn’t include this information as it’s almost impossible to tell how big a room is in a photo, especially when you have a good professional photographer. I’ve seen shoebox sized bedrooms which look huge in photos due to the touch of an amazing photographer.  I also found it wastes a ton of time. As a Realtor, I get tons of questions every day from clients wanting to know how big a certain home, condo or apartment is. I then have to call or email the listing agent, wait for that person to get back to me and half the time the listing agent doesn’t even know the answer.  So now we’ve wasted my client’s time and my time.

In other markets, including square footage is either required or is the standard practice, but not in Chicago. Why? I include square footage in every listing and wanted to know why others aren’t so I started asking Chicago realtors and managing brokers why they aren’t including square footage.  Some said it was because they didn’t know how to accurately calculate the square footage (are you serious???!!!). Hint hint: It’s as simple as using the tool in the above photo.   Most said it was because they didn’t want to get sued if the square footage wasn’t 100% accurate.   Undoubtedly the  practice was abandoned along the way because someone got sued, but now Realtors are using it as an excuse to not do additional work.  To protect Realtors from exactly this kind of situation MLS includes the following language on every listing:

“The accuracy of all information, regardless of source, including but not limited to square footages and lot sizes, is deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be personally verified through personal inspection by and/or with the appropriate professionals.”

How can consumers search for apartments and homes to suit their family’s needs without being able to see the square footage?

How can clients compare the value of one home with another if they don’t know the difference in the square footage and can’t calculate cost based on per square foot price?

How can I as a Realtor do an accurate comp if there’s no square footage in the Chicago MLS?

I get that Realtors don’t want to get sued, but c’mon Realtors, do your job. Make sure your measurements are accurate. If you don’t know how to properly determine square footage, hire someone who does.  It’s absurd that square footage isn’t mandatory in the Chicago MLS and until that happens, it’s our job as Realtors to give consumers the data they need to make informed decisions.

And consumers, I ask you to urge your agent to include this information if they are selling your home.    If they refuse, hire someone else. If they don’t know how to accurately calculate square footage, a basic real estate concept, what else don’t they know about real estate?  Also, pick up a tool like a Strait-Line (in the above photo) so you can get a rough estimate of the square footage when seeing a property.  You can buy them at Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, etc for between $25 – $30 generally.


This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.