While the most popular units of measurement for real estate are square feet, square metre and square yard, most states use their own units to measure pieces of land. These are basically vernacular usages that are accepted by the government and can be converted into sq. ft and sq. yd.

For instance, kila is used in Uttarakhand, while in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, biswa and bigha is used, respectively. Similarly, people in Punjab use kanal and marla to measure plots.

The reason

With rising housing demand, land is becoming scarce. In fact, in a lot of cities, land is available only in the suburbs. In suburban areas, most of the land is agricultural and is owned by local farmers. Vernacular or local units are used so that the rural citizens can understand them. These eases out the transaction process for them and ensures that they are not cheated.

When is it converted

The units used in a particular region form the base of plot measurement at the time of the property’s documentation and registration. Usually, the land revenue department and other government agencies record the measurement in local units as well as in sq. yd or sq. ft.

What it means for you

If you are investing in an area and the measurement is in the local unit, it is important for you to decipher it. Therefore, it is better to ask the real estate agent or the owner to give the measurement in sq. m or sq. yd.

For example, within Punjab, two units are used—marla and kanal. The unit used can make a difference to the actual size of the plot. While 1 marla is equal to 30.25 sq. yd, 1 kanal is 605 sq. yd. So, unless you get the unit converted and know what you will get, you could end up in a deal you are not really prepared for. Similarly, 1 biswa is equal to 151.25 sq. yd, 1 bigha is equal to 3,025 sq. yd and 1 kila is 4,840 sq. yd.

Also, remember that you need to mention the area in both the local unit as well as the an accepted unit, while signing the sale deed to ensure more transparency.