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Scandal is leaving buyers, sellers and renters ‘out of pocket’ - claim

Residential properties in the capital are being wrongly valued due to outdated measurement techniques used to measure floor space, it has been claimed.

Residential properties in London are mis-sold by £33,800 due to outdated and inaccurate property measurements, according to Pupil. 

The spatial data company says that properties in London are being mismeasured by 54 sq ft on average when using price per square fee and on this basis, the cost of mis-measurement totals £119bn across the capital. 

The findings are based on a White Paper entitled Risks and Costs of Mismeasurement in Residential Property which was previously produced by property technology solution, Spec.

The whitepaper revealed that for one in eight properties, the property area stated on floorplans provided by estate agents varied by at least 100 square feet from their actual size, with the average discrepancy of 54 square feet across all properties equating to the size of a small bedroom or study. 

While the sizes of many properties are under-estimated, Pupil found that in 60% of cases, the traditional floor plans were overstated in size, with photographers often including unlivable areas into floor plans such as a low-ceilinged loft or a fireplace.

The company is now calling on the industry to remove “For Illustrative Purposes” to ensure consumers get what they pay for, whilst also avoiding legal liability down the line when they come to sell the property. 

James D Marshall, founder and chief executive officer at Pupil, commented: “This scandal is misleading buyers, sellers and renters every day, leaving them tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket, and yet so many people aren’t aware it’s even happening. It’s time for some transparency and accountability within the industry. 

“For far too long, property floor plans have been created by photographers who are not certified and lack the appropriate equipment to produce precise measurements.”

The “for illustrative purposes” guidance simply removes the duty of care to the consumer. When the size of a house is measured inaccurately, the value changes and it confounds the buying and selling process; we have seen it happen too many times. 

Marshall added:: “There is an urgent need for estate agents to standardise their measurement practices and remove “for illustrative purposes” floor plans across the industry so that people can make a more informed decision about a huge, often life changing decision.”

Anthony Browne, senior advisor to Spec, agrees that this is a “hidden scandal” in the property market that must be addressed.

He commented: “For almost everyone, their home is the most valuable thing they ever buy, but they usually have to rely on very inaccurate and misleading measurements that could affect its value by hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“It is ridiculous that when you buy a pint of beer or a pound of sugar you know exactly what you are getting, but when you buy your home you don't. The size of a home clearly affects its value, so it is essential that the measurements are accurate.

“For prospective homeowners, it is essential that they obtain accurate size measurements for properties that they are buying. Previously that was technically difficult and prohibitively expensive, but with new 3D capture technology such as Spec, it is now quick and affordable to provide highly accurate floor plans, giving buyers and sellers peace of mind about the true size of their property.”

  • jeremy clarke

    Usual snowflake reaction, blame someone else when surely putting your hand in your pocket as a buyer and employing a surveyor would be the simple answer? At that stage the buyer has "bought" nothing and if the discrepancy is significant there is time to resolve rather than buying blind and then winging?

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    Buyer beware, you wouldn't trust a car salesman so why would trust an estate agent ?

  • Matthew Payne

    No the value doesn't change. Agents dont value secondhand stock based on its precise square footage, and the floorplan is done after the valuation has been done and marketing and viewings have quite often already started. Likewise the value of a property is not just determined by its size, and buyers dont judge value alone based on the square footage on a floorplan. There are far more complicated dynamics at play that determine what price properties sell for and what buyers are prepared to pay, and after all, a property is worth what a buyer is prepared to pay for it.

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