It’s no secret that we Miamians march to the beat of our own drum. We speak lots of different languages, call flip flops sandals, drink very strong coffee, some of us use our horn more than our traffic signals (you know who you are) and we are always on the hunt for the next health fad!
 
The same rings true when it comes to calculating a home’s worth. Members of the local real estate industry have historically used myriad methods. Unfortunately, these methods have yielded confusion for consumers, Realtors, and the statisticians who report housing trends. But alas, in 2017, we are FINALLY all getting on the same page (well sort of). Now, this is confusing so stay with me here…
 
A Brief History
The Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office is the go to initial source for a home’s size. Historically, the office ONLY published a home’s Adjusted Square Footage (ADJ). The ADJ is the square footage that the Tax Assessor uses to calculate what a homeowner pays in property taxes. Last November, our sales team went on a field trip to meet with the Deputy Property Appraiser downtown. We discussed the methodology he uses and he provided us with the document attached to this blog which details it. Essentially, the ADJ consists of the following:
 

  • 100% of air conditioned space on the first floor
  • 80% of the air conditioned space on the second floor
  • 1/3 or 2/3 of the covered outdoor space depending on certain criteria
  • 1/3 or ½ of the garage space depending on certain criteria and a whole bunch of other stuff
  • OVERALL, ADJ is typically larger than the Living Area of a home (except sometimes in a two story house with no or limited garage space) However, we have seen some architects attempt to calculate ADJ for Realtors and their clients, but we have found that not all of them are properly informed of the Property Appraiser’s methodology. This can cause further confusion in the marketplace and potentially show overstated house sizes.

 

 
Important Fact: The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is where all licensed Realtors input their listings. The MLS syndicates this information to all of the sites the general public uses – think Zillow, Realtor, Trulia, etc. The MLS reports the size of a home as Living Area.
 
NOW HERE’S THE KEY—For years when a Realtor entered his/her listing into the MLS, the system asked its Realtor members to enter a home’s LIVING AREA “LA” for all to see. Realtors typically got this information from the Tax Appraiser who only reported “ADJ”. In fact, the MLS instructed Realtors to enter the ADJ in the LA input field. It was kind of a free for all actually. If you didn’t know the ADJ or came up with different measurements for the home, you could put any measurement you wanted in the LA field. This common practice made it very difficult to
get apples to apples comparisons on square footages of homes. Further, when in doubt, Realtors would pick the highest square footage they could find so that the price per square foot appeared lower for those who calculated it.
 
NEW RULES IN 2017
Recently, the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser made some significant improvements to their website and its data output. It began publishing more data on homes for the general public to see. They NOW report the Actual Area (this is the Total Area under roof), Living Area (area under air condition) AND the Adjusted Area (see definition above). The MLS is now pulling the Living Area “LA” from the Tax Appraiser’s database and putting that
measurement in the LA field. So now when you see Living Area on Zillow, Trulia, et al it is truly Living Area (for the most part). Bottom line, the new MLS input and its output provides a more apples to apple comparison of homes.
 
Sticking Point
But, here’s the rub. While we go through this much-needed transition to a more accurate comparison of measurements, it’s having a direct result on pricing. Why? Think about it. If you compare data from about a year ago (ADJ square footage numbers which account for air conditioned and some non-air- conditioned space of a home = LARGER number) and compare it to today’s (LA square footage which accounts only for under air space of a home = SMALLER number), you might make the incorrect assumption that Miami-Dade’s price per square foot is up…way up! The media and the statistician’s are certainly falling in line. Our Realtors understand this concept and prepared to help you analyze the numbers in a comprehensive way so you can make smart buying decisions.
 
Here are some helpful resources: Miami Dade Property Appraiser, and of course, when all else fails – CALL US. We’re here to help!


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