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Fact Sheet: Standardized Property Measuring Guidelines (Jul. 2022)

Updated guidance including some new and substantively revised FAQs

Appraisers are now required to use the Square Footage-Method for Calculating: ANSI® Z765-2021 (American National Standards Institute®) measuring standard for measuring, calculating, and reporting above and below grade square footage(s) to determine gross living area (GLA) and non-GLA areas of subject properties for appraisals requiring interior and exterior inspections with effective dates of April 1, 2022 or later on loans sold to Fannie Mae.

All footprint sketches and floor plans must be computer-generated (not hand-drawn), indicate all the dimensions needed to calculate the above/ below grade and finished/unfinished square footage of each level and other areas such as a garage, and show the calculations to demonstrate how the square footage was derived.

Why the change?

What if comparable sales are measured differently?

Valuations of residential property correlate strongly with GLA, yet historically there has been little consistency in how appraisers determine it. Our adoption of the ANSI standard for measuring, calculating, and reporting square footage:
  • Creates alignment across market participants.
  • Provides a professional and defensible method for the appraiser.
  • Allows transparent and repeatable results for the user of the appraisal report.
GLA for properties in local MLS systems and assessor records may not have been derived using the ANSI standard for measuring and calculating square footage. The appraiser may not know what method was used to calculate the GLA shown in an MLS listing or in tax assessor data. Through research and their knowledge of the local market, appraisers determine if the GLA provided through alternate sources should be adjusted. The adjustment process does not change the requirement to report subject GLA using the ANSI standard.


How well do you know ANSI?

Is there an exception process?

Here are some considerations for appraisers when using the ANSI standard:
  • Measurements are taken and reported on the sketch or floor plan to the nearest inch or tenth of a foot, and the final square footage calculations are reported to the nearest whole square foot.
  • Staircases are included in the square footage of the floor from which they descend .
  • Any space that is partially or completely below grade is required by Fannie Mae to be reported as basement area.
  • The standard does not allow openings to the floor below, e.g., two-story foyers, to be included in the reported square footage..
  • All finished areas included in GLA must have a ceiling height of at least 7’. In a room with a sloping ceiling, at least 50% of the finished square footage of the room must have a ceiling height of at least 7’ and no portion of the finished area that has a ceiling height of less than 5’ can be included in the GLA. 
  • If a house has a finished area that does not have a ceiling height of 7’ for 50% of the finished area, e.g., some cape cods or below-grade areas, in conformance with the standard, the appraiser must put this area on a separate line in the Sales Comparison Grid with the appropriate market adjustment. 
If the appraiser is unable to adhere to the ANSI standard, the appraiser will provide the code “GXX001-” in the Additional Features field on the appraisal form and must explain why compliance was not possible. For example, berm homes with their entire square footage below grade would be eligible for an exception. The appraiser must provide justification for an exception and lenders are responsible for confirming the appraiser provided an adequate explanation. Fannie Mae will monitor for inappropriate use of exceptions (i.e., using methods other than the ANSI standard for homes that have typical above-grade square footage)..


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