Square Pegs into Round Irregular Holes

Due to unique shapes of rooms — measurements may vary — please measure if buyer wants exact measurements of L-shaped rooms.”

–Excerpt, MLS “Agent Remarks” field.

The input field on MLS for room sizes asks for two numbers: the room’s width and its length.

Which works great if a room is rectangular.

But what if it’s not?

If the room has a dormer, is L-shaped, curved, or otherwise defies a standard “width x length” measurement, it’s a bit more challenging.

Squaring the Circle

I don’t know about other Realtors, but my usual way of dealing with such a room consists of three steps: 1) break the room up into “constituent” rectangles that capture its dimensions; 2) total up the square footage of said rectangles; and 3) convert that into a width and length that equal the same square feet.

Is that kosher?

Put it this way: I’ve never had an issue in 18+ years representing Sellers (Buyers, too).

Plausibility Test

In practice, my experience has been that if a home’s square feet and room dimensions seem plausible (if not conservative), Buyers are fine with it.

And if the stats do not seem plausible . . . there are usually other problems with the listing besides just overstated square feet and room dimensions.

P.S.: is a room with 12′ ceilings bigger than one with 8′ ceilings?


Which is a good argument for measuring by 3-D volume, vs. 2-D square feet.

See also, “The House That Shrank“; “Too Good to Be True“; “Misstating a Home’s Square Feet”; “Exaggerated Square Footage“; “Home on a Diet“; and “17 Reasons (at least) Why It’s Never a Good Idea to Exaggerate a Home’s Square Feet.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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