Property buyers are overpaying by an average of £13,000 because of mistakes made when measuring floor space, according to an explosive report. In London, this figure soars to almost £34,000.
The average property in Britain is mismeasured by 54 sq ft, according to the research by Spec, a property tech firm, meaning buyers could be overpaying by £13,090 based on the typical price per square foot of £242.
Spec said its research revealed that mismeasurement happens in 60pc of sales and that in one in eight cases the amount of floor space was oversold by more than 100 sq ft. In London, this equates to £57,697.
These inaccurate measurements have led to accusations that estate agents could be mis-selling properties to unsuspecting buyers. Anthony Brown, of Spec, described it as the “great scandal of the property market”.
He added: “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.”
According to Spec, the issues are primarily caused by simple human error, a lack of available data about properties, or the “systematic” use of average property sizes to determine floor space. The company said its research showed that the current process needs to be reformed so that consumers can have trust in the data they are provided with.
Andrew Boast, of SAM Conveyancing, said some of his clients had purchased new-build properties off-plan and only realised they had been oversold on size at a later date.
“It is unacceptable that they could be buying a smaller property than what was marketed to them,” he added. “Estate agents may argue that they use external companies to deliver their floor plans. “However, it is still their responsibility to provide accurate measurements and, where it is not possible, make clear that the measurements are estimates.”
He said that buyers who faced this predicament could make a claim for breach of contract or even exit the contract entirely.
Jeremy Leaf, an estate agent based in north London, conceded this is an issue but said it highlighted the importance of a buyer getting an independent valuation carried out.
He said: “In my experience, this does happen a lot, particularly now where buyers are more fixated with price per square foot than they used to be.
“It all depends on how it is measured and how much of your hand is held over the first part of the tape, so buyer beware.”
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, a trade body representing estate agents, said: “While it is important for measurements to be as accurate as possible, the majority of British homebuyers buy with their heart rather than their head.
“The average consumer in the UK does not understand floor areas in terms of pricing and will tend to look at the features of the property rather than the overall square footage.”