How Do Driveways Affect Appraised Value?

What’s The Size of Your Driveway?

By Jamie Owen
Excerpt: It really depends on how the appraiser is looking at it. Are they reporting the width of the driveway, the depth, or how many cars can fit on the driveway?
Most appraisers reflect the width of the driveway. Why? For one thing, many lenders prefer the driveway size to be reported this way. This is likely because it is less subjective. For instance, if the appraiser reports the driveway size based upon the number of cars that can fit on it, what kind of automobile are they using for their measurement? After all, a driveway may be able to accommodate a larger number of smaller cars than bigger ones.
Does it affect value? As is the case with nearly every aspect of a home, the answer is, it depends.
For instance, in high-density neighborhoods where street parking is limited, the size of the driveway could make a difference in value. On the other hand, in other high-density neighborhoods, many homeowners may use public transportation. If this is the norm for the neighborhood, the size of the driveway may not have any impact on value.
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My comments: Worth reading. Lots of topics are covered. Check out the fun animated gifs, etc.
In San Francisco, for example, off-street parking is at a premium in many neighborhoods. My brother bought a house 25 years ago with no off-street parking (primarily single family homes). I warned him, but he really wanted the house. It was a hassle then, but now, it is very difficult to find parking as many neighbors rent rooms to tenants with cars.
A significant issue with ADUs is where will the car(s) park? Will they take up the neighbors’ on-street parking?
I moved to San Francisco in 1968 and worked in a lab 20 miles away. The closest parking was 2-3 long blocks away when I got home from work. I moved from Tulsa, OK, where there was lots of parking everywhere. I never lived in a place without off-street parking again!
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Haunted House Appraisal Adjustments

Inspired by Italy, a Conical Home in Indiana

Excerpt: On the market for $424,900, the home consists of two main silolike buildings with shake conical roofs. Inside the round compound is a total of 3,111 square feet of living space.

The design was inspired by the trulli homes of the Itria Valley in Puglia, Italy. They were typically built from limestone and had conical roofs. The structures were chiefly designed as temporary shelters or storage areas in the 19th century. Today, they endure as charming residences in southern Italy. Back in Indiana, this home’s architect, Evans Woollen, combined details from trulli homes into his design.

“The house is a midcentury version of a 200-year-old village in Italy,” Landrigan says.

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Top Ten Reasons Why It Is Great to be an Appraiser Humor

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Appraising Fixer-Uppers

What About Those Fixer-Uppers?

Insights from a Seasoned Appraiser
By Steven Vehmeier
Excerpt: We’re all familiar with the term “fixer-upper.” For many different reasons, properties can come on the market in less-than-par condition. The degree and cost to cure become an issue to buyers and sellers, and a challenge for appraisers. At some point, it’s no longer “normal market value minus cost to cure equals as-is value.”
The terms “entrepreneurial incentidddve” and “entrepreneurial profit” are typically discussed in terms of investment property, but the principles involved can also be applied to the many fixer-uppers—whether the buyer is a “purely investor type” or an “owner-occupied investor type.” Maybe a couple of new terms should be discussed: “sweat equity incentive” and “sweat equity profit.”
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My comments: Most of my appraisals are for estates (date of death). I have never appraised a home that was ready for sale when the person died: staged, new paint and floor coverings, yards cleaned up, etc. I very seldom have any repair estimates or structural pest control or home inspection report.
I always assume the home is empty of furniture and “broom clean,” which I learned doing lots of REOs in the past. If a home is cluttered with personal stuff, the price will be lower. But, it can be fixed easily and inexpensively. If it is a mess, I tell the executor to call me when it is cleaned out so I can see what the walls, floors, kitchen countertops, etc. look like.  If I can’t see, I disclose this in the appraisal and do my best to figure out a condition estimate.
Very few MLS listings here are not fixed up for sale. I look for “fixer”, “contractor”, “as is”, “handyman”, etc. in the description.

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What is Included in Appraisal GLA (sq.ft.)?

Stairway to Confusion – What is Included in GLA?

by C. Brett Bowen
Excerpt: There has been considerable discussion over the years about gross living area (GLA) measurement standards. The ANSI Z765 standard gets the lion’s share of the attention, and is the most widely referenced standard in the industry by far. It can also be the most difficult to interpret, particularly when it comes to stairs. Here’s why.
It is primarily important to recognize two very important facts:
 1) a standard is nothing more than the definition of a unit of comparison
 2) it is the appraiser’s responsibility to be consistent with that definition.
First, what do I mean when I say that a standard is nothing more than the definition of the unit of comparison? The unit of comparison for something is critical to the understanding of that thing.
Second, as an appraiser, consistency with the definition is actually more important than which definition is chosen.
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My comment: Worth reading. I have seldom used ANSI. The standards were developed for new home construction. I have appraised many homes on hillsides, with often only the garage at street level (or just a driveway). Many historic homes, on level streets, have different types of “basements” converted to living area: above grade, partly below grade, etc. If I worked in suburbia, ANSI would work better. I use what the local market tells me.

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Location, Location, Location In Appraisals

What’s Location Got to Do with It?

By Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts: We’ve all heard the old mantra that real estate is all about “location, location, location.” A perfect example of the importance of location in appraising can be found in The Villages in central Florida.

The development called “The Villages” has seventy-eight communities, each called a “village,” ranging in size from 100 to around 1,500 homes in each. In total, there are somewhere around 140,000 residents, and the home prices in these individual villages range from the low one-hundred thousand up to a couple million. In some cases, villages located near and/or adjacent to each other can vary significantly in price….

An appraiser not familiar with The Villages could easily over-or under-value a property by mixing villages. For example, let’s say the subject is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 2,000 square foot home with a two-car garage on a typical sized lot. It would not be hard to find hundreds of homes with similar physical characteristics nearby; however, some might be located in the “wrong” village…

Can we apply this “village” concept to other areas? Are there typically many villages or neighborhoods in and around most major cities? Do the same principles apply in comparable selection and resultant values? Of course, they do!

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My comments: Very interesting “case study.” Tim Andersen soon will have two articles on neighborhoods and what USPAP says in Appraisal Today monthly newsletters.

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What is an Appraisal “Inspection”?

Appraisal Inspection Vs. Home Inspection

Excerpts: Why are these roles often confused? What is an Appraisal “Inspection”?

The root of many misconceptions about the appraisal inspection is the word “inspection” itself. It is true that as part of the appraisal process, the appraiser might perform some sort of onsite quality, condition, and functional utility survey of the property to determine its relevant characteristics and if it meets certain standards. For example, to the general public, the FHA requirements that an appraiser must operate certain systems in the home (plumbing, electrical, HVAC) seems similar to what a licensed home inspector does.

The Oxford Online Dictionary defines inspection as: “Careful examination or scrutiny”

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines inspection as:

“The act of looking at something closely in order to learn more about it, to find problems, etc.; the act of inspecting something”

It’s somewhat of a benign definition, is it not? There’s nothing really scary there, yet many appraisers attempt to avoid confusion, and (potentially) limit their liability, by avoiding use of the word “inspection” entirely. Many appraisers use euphemisms for this term in their appraisal reports, such as “property visit” or “viewing.”

Even FHA got into the euphemism game with the publication of Handbook 4000.1, which went into effect in 2015. The words “inspect” or “inspection” generally do not appear in reference to an appraiser’s obligations. Instead, the words “observe” and “observation” are used.

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My comments: USPAP has never required an inspection. USPAP defines “Personal Inspection” as the following: a physical observation performed to assist in identifying relevant property characteristics in a valuation service.”

The word “inspection” is used in various locations, such as Advisory opinion A02, including Minimal level of Inspection.

The fourth exposure draft for the 2023 version has Section 1: “Review of Requirements about Disclosing a Personal Inspection.” Final comments deadline is today, July 23, 2021.

Revised FHA Handbook 4000.1 effective 9/14/15. Are you ready for the changes? Get the facts!!

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What AMCs Say to Appraisers and How to Respond

What AMCs say to appraisers and How to Respond

By Steven W. Vehmeier

Excerpts: A student contacted me with the following dilemma concerning an Appraisal Management Company (AMC) request: “I told the Management Company that I cannot mark the Zoning Compliance as ‘Legal’ if the report is marked “as-is,” because this would not be true for the current “as-is” condition of the subject on the effective date of the appraisal. The AMC insists that as long as I disclose in the addendum that the zoning is currently ‘illegal,’ then I can mark on the first page as ‘Legal.’”

Taking the matter to the source can be accomplished by: 1) personal research of the appropriate documents, which is sometimes faster, or 2) emailing the controlling entity for their official answer. Notice I didn’t say to phone them. I want the answer in writing to pass on to the client/AMC.

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My comment: Some Most Excellent and practical tips!! My bottom-line advice: Fire the AMC! We all know there is always another AMC that is desperate for appraisers today. Now is a good time to shop for one that is easy to work for. You could check in appraisal online groups to see what they say. If they are not competitors, hopefully, you can get some good ideas. Be sure to post your location.

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review

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What Types of Sales For Appraisals

Arm’s Length or Another Type of Sale? The 7 Sale Types Explained

What types of sales for appraisals

Excerpts: As a real estate appraiser, whether you’re considering the current terms of sale or analyzing previous sales of the subject property or comparable sales, it is imperative to know whether a sale is an arms-length transaction or a different type of sale. Sales due to a job relocation, estate settlement, foreclosure, or divorce may sell for less than the property’s market value.

By knowing the type of sale, you are better able to reconcile a current opinion of market value that falls above or below a current or recent transaction for the subject property.

Here are the seven valid sale types, explained in detail below:

  • REO sale
  • Short sale
  • Court ordered sale
  • Estate sale
  • Relocation sale
  • Non-arm’s length sale
  • Arm’s length sale

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My comment: Worth reviewing. Some good tips, especially for today’s crazy sales market!

Using home’s previous sales in appraisals

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What Should Appraisers Wear?

What Should Appraisers Wear?

Excerpt:

Professional Dress

When we are observing properties, it is important that we dress professionally. If we are doing an appraisal for lending, we are a representative of our client. Although we are not an employee of the client, we do represent them. Often, we are the only person actually seen by participants in the transaction.

Photo above by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

Also, we represent ourselves, our business, so we want to dress professionally. We are professional licensed appraisers performing our work and should look as such. That said, what works for walking around properties, in between bushes, in the mud, etc.?

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My comments: Very interesting. From a female appraiser perspective, but applies to guys also.

Over my 45 years of appraising, I had differences in what I wear, from very professional (commercial) to casual for protection from bushes, dogs, etc. For residential appraisals, I prefer to keep my clothes from being damaged (heavy pants, strong jacket, collared polo shirts, and very sturdy shoes) from gravel, unknown stuff under weeds in the back yard, etc.). I live in a mild Mediterranean climate, so I don’t do much else except raincoats and a heavier jacket.  I don’t even want to think about snow, slush, and mud!!

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Wearing shoes in a house for appraisal(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Tips on doing appraisals for AMCs

Top 10 Tips for Working with AMCs

Excerpt: 6. Make appointments quickly

Schedule appraisal assignments as you receive them, within 24–48 hours. Many AMCs will score you on this task. If you’re working in a small area, and you get two assignments in one day that are close together, make the appointments. Get them on the books and schedule them as quickly as possible.

7. Update the AMC with any delays

Be sure to update the client if any delays or problems come up during the appraisal process. See item #2 above: Update your order statuses. This will preserve your SLAs with AMCs.

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My comment: Nothing new, but some good reminders. Of course, you may not agree…

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