February 19, 2016

By now you’ll have heard that RAHB is participating in the development of a regional MLS® system and “shift”ing to a new MLS® platform – Matrix. To help you prepare for The Shift, we will be emailing regular updates with news, training information, links to helpful website and more. Watch your email inbox for future issues of The Shift!



More about square footage

Square footage will be a mandatory field in the new Regional MLS® System once we make the final cut over to Matrix.

There will be two parts to the Square Footage field:   the measurement, and how you got the measurement – that is, whether you measured it yourself or used another source.   The five options for the source of the measurement on the Residential Data Input form will be:

  • Builders’ floor plans
  • Floor plans
  • LBO provided
  • Other
  • Public records

Builder’s floor plans
If the house you are listing has a builder’s floor plan, it is acceptable to use it.  You should be aware, however, that the floor plan from before the house was built may differ from the actual floor plan that was built.  While you can cite the builder’s floor plan, it may be worth your while to do a quick check to make sure the rooms are reasonably accurately represented.

Floor Plans
There are a number of companies you can hire to measure square footage, draw floor plans and provide other services for a fee.  A quick internet search gave us four companies close to the Hamilton-Burlington market area:

A more detailed search may produce the names and website of other companies that measure square footage.

LBO provided (or measuring for yourself)
For those of you who will take your own measurements, you should know there is no standardized way of measuring the square footage of a house in Canada.  There are, however, a number of recognized methods to measure square footage.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), with the National Association of Home Builders, developed an American National Standard for Single-Family Residential Buildings.  Their document has a good description of what goes into measuring square footage, although it doesn’t provide a lot of examples of measuring various types of houses.   Read the guideline.

The Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) has developed guidelines that are widely used; they can be found on REALTOR Link® under the MLS® tab or here. They are very similar to the ACRE method developed by the now-defunct Alliance for Real Estate Education (ACRE) and which is still included in the reference guide OREA issues in the Ontario licensing course.   The ACRE method includes examples of a few more types of dwellings than the Appraisal Institute’s guidelines.

An internet search for how to measure square footage brings up a number of sites – appraisers, bloggers, ANSI and more.   There’s no question it would be easier if there was one, approved way to calculate square footage and a website to explain it, but there isn’t.  If you check out those sites, however, most refer to one of the recognized methods mentioned above – ANSI, AIC or ACRE.

What is probably most important, if you are measuring square footage yourself, is that you choose one of the recognized methods, understand the calculations and use that method consistently.   If there are any discrepancies, you should be able to show that you diligently adhered to a legitimate way to calculate square footage.

Public Records – MPAC reports purchased through GeoWarehouse
MPAC offers two reports that provide square footage – the Residential Floor Area Report and the Detailed Level 2 Report.  (The links will take you to samples of the reports.)   You can purchase the reports through the GeoWarehouse Store for $5 and $8 respectively.

If you use any other source than those listed, you have to explain in the comments section of the listing what your source is.

The most important thing to remember when you are determining the square footage of a property you have listed is that you have to do your own due diligence to ensure the information is reliable – you measure yourself, you have a professional measure or you use public or reliable builder’s plans.  It is not enough to rely on the word of the seller or use the information from a previous listing; you should be checking the information yourself so you know it is accurate.

When you are engaged with buyers and sellers as they purchase or sell a home, remember:  you are the professional, so RECO will hold you to a high standard, the court will hold you to a high standard, sellers and buyers will hold you to a high standard and RAHB will hold you to a high standard.

Everything’s New

Members have been asking exactly what the differences are between property information forms used for Fusion and the data input forms that will be used for Matrix.

If you look at the new Regional residential and commercial data input forms (there are links to the new forms below), they look completely different than the forms you are used to.  It makes sense, because you can’t go from the five forms used for Fusion to two forms for Matrix, and expect everything to remain the same.

Once RAHB makes the transition to Matrix, you will have to use the data input forms for Matrix – the property information forms for Fusion will not give you the information you need to broker load your listing information.

It would be a good idea, then, to get to know two Matrix Regional MLS®  data input forms before you need to start using them.   Read the instructions and the guide that preceed the data input form; become familiar with which fields are considered mandatory; get a feel for the general layout of the form so that you are familiar with it when it comes time to fill out your first one.

Check them out now – but remember you can’t use the new forms until you are able to broker load listings into Matrix.

Residential Data Input form
Commercial Data Input form

Important links

Matrix Transition Guide
CoreLogic’s Matrix 6.12 Quick Start Guide
New Regional Residential Data Input Form
New Regional Commercial Data Input Form

** Remember – do not use the new Regional Data Input Forms until you are able to broker load in Matrix **

Please note: the development of the regional MLS® system is a work in progress. All information provided in the issue of The Shift is correct as of February 19, 2016.