There are three different square footage numbers for every MLS listing, and which of those figures is advertised on other websites can confuse buyers. So, here is a quick tutorial on square footage terminology..
Above-Grade square footage used to be called “Main” square footage or simply square footage without any modifier. As the new name suggests, it does not include basement square footage. But that begs the question, “what is a basement?” In a split-level home, the lower level, which is often below grade, is included as “above-grade” square footage, since there is frequently a basement below that level. In a “raised ranch” home, the lower level is included in “above-grade” square footage for the same reason. (A “raised ranch” is defined as a home where you have to climb a flight of stairs to get to the “main” level. The “main” level is defined as the level with the kitchen.)
Finished square footage includes all the finished square feet, including in a basement. If the basement is unfinished (or there is no basement), this number will be the same as the “Above Grade” number.
Total square footage is what the name suggests, whether finished or unfinished.
For a listing with a partially finished basement, all three square footage numbers will be different.