What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?

Question: Can it count in the square footage?

Roof detail house

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: Can you include it in the square footage? I get questions like this almost every week. Is it okay to count an accessory dwelling in the living area? What about a pool house? How about a man cave or she shed? Let’s talk about this.

The straight dope: It’s tempting to lump something else in the backyard into the square footage, but that’s not appropriate per ANSI measuring standards. Suppose you have to walk outside of the house into something else that is not directly accessible to the house. In that case, we’re really dealing with something that isn’t considered to be a part of the main house…

To read more, click here

My comments: Written for homeowners, but has some good remarks on square footage, such as “lumped square footage” in MLS. What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage can be tricky and controversial. It can also vary by geographic area.

How accurate is the reported square footage from the tax records in your primary service area?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Marketing and Management Tips for Appraisers

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Working with difficult appraisal clients

Advice for Working with Difficult Appraisal Clients

Excerpt: Even if the bulk of your appraisals are fairly cut and dried, and require minimal interaction with a human client, any appraiser will occasionally have to work with a difficult client. The assignment might require you to work with a specialty property that is hard to appraise, or with a client who is personally disagreeable, or exceptionally exacting, or who has an agenda that you don’t understand or can’t go along with. Here are some tips for working with difficult clients. Three of the topics:

– Working with AMCs and banks: Time management

– Working with non-lenders: Expectations management

– Deal with complaints immediately

To read the tips, click here

My comment: Some great, practical tips!! Maybe I will try some of them instead of Firing clients, my most popular option ;>

My motto: Appraising would be great except for the darn clients!!

Which Appraisal Clients are used the most?(Opens in a new browser tab)

What to Do When Your Appraisal Is Under Review(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Favorite parts of the appraisal process

What’s your favorite part of the appraisal process?

Excerpt:

Number 1. Data collection and property description (38%)

“The best part is the property review. I enjoy seeing what people have done to their properties and talking to them about their homes.”

“I enjoy viewing/observing the subject home.”

“Detective work”

“Each dwelling is different, and not every appraiser takes the time to clarify the differences in the dwellings. The quality, the construction, the egresses, and especially the correct way to calculate GLA or measure a dwelling.”

Number 2. Data analysis (27%)…

To read more about favorites, click here

My comment: I love working in the field, so my choice is Number 1. But, my very best choice is getting paid ;>

Which Appraisal Clients are used the most?(Opens in a new browser tab)

What is the farthest you have traveled to complete an appraisal and still be considered geographically competent?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Appraisal Process Challenges(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Tax records and Square Footage in Appraisals

13516718 – white wood texture with natural patterns

Tax Records is not the definitive source for square footage!

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpt:

Why is the appraiser saying it’s only 1,400 sq ft? Tax Records shows the home is 600 sq ft larger. This issue comes up ALL the time, so let’s talk about it. Tax records and Square Footage in Appraisals is a hot topic.

The truth: The Assessor’s records are generally reliable, but I’m just saying sometimes they’re not. Why is this? At times it’s as simple as the original builder not turning in accurate information when a house was built. Or maybe an owner took out permits but official records were never updated. Of course we’ve all seen instances where the tax roll shows two units on one lot, but there’s really just one house nowadays. Let’s not forget sometimes owners do an addition without permits, so the Assessor might actually be correct even though the house is technically larger or has even sold on MLS as a larger home. For reference, here are ten reasons why an appraiser’s sketch might be different.

For lots of comments and more info, click here

My comment: This one of the main reasons that AVMs will never be very successful for all homes. Over and over again, statistical analysis shows GLA is the most important physical feature overall.

Also, how bedrooms are determined varies a lot, depending on the local market and can vary over time. The assessor number of bedrooms may not match the appraiser’s. For example, tandem rooms. Finished basements can vary also.

I started appraising at a CA assessor’s office in 1976. In CA, State Board of Equalization regulated county assessors offices, so the procedures and terminology are very similar all over the state. However, GLA from the assessor may have different requirements than other sources, such as ANSI.

Proposition 13 passed in 1979, which only allowed an annual 2% increase in assessment per year, unless there was a sale or improvements (determined by permits). Over time, the information has become more and more out of date.

Data is not available for smaller counties if the assessor says it is confidential. Until the 90s, my county did not release any data, so I had to “guesstimate” on square footage for sales and listings. We finally got it when an MAI was elected assessor.

In the early 90s, I researched assessors records around the country. In some small rural counties the records were kept at the assessor’s home. They were not digitized and available for purchase by data companies.

Appraisers need to know which areas are not accurate. Sometimes GLA is “political”. Within a city, accuracy can vary. In my city the least accurate records are in the “Gold Coast” with many of the city’s larger, historic homes. In other nearby cities, some properties have low GLAs to keep the property taxes lower.

Appraisal Humor

Appraisal business tips

What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?(Opens in a new browser tab)

How accurate is the reported square footage from the tax records in your primary service area?(Opens in a new browser tab)

10 reasons why public records and the appraiser’s square footage can differ(Opens in a new browser tab)

To read about lots more appraisal topics, continue reading below!

 

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Angle Measurements for Appraisers

Accurate Measurements with Odd Angles

Excerpt: Imagine a 2,100 square foot, one and a half story house with an attached garage, porch, and deck. You probably imagined the typical bungalow. Now, imagine that house having 48 corners and only 4 of them are 90 degrees. I recently had an experience with just that house. Some architect, thinking they were Frank Lloyd Wright reincarnated, decided to build this house on a high bank cliff overlooking the Puget Sound. Don’t get me wrong, it was a pretty cool design, but I knew right away when I received the order for that appraisal that I was going to need some help.

To read more, click here Lots of reviews of the product, plus other similar products.

My comment: $19.95. An inexpensive product we all need!! They have been around for awhile, but most appraisers did not know about them. I appraise a lot of Victorians. Very useful!!

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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What’s included in appraisal GLA?

Should The Agent Include These Areas In Square Footage?

Excerpt: The most thrown around metric in real estate has to do with square footage and price per square foot. People ask me all of the time what homes in this or that neighborhood are selling for per square foot.

Why do they do this? Because they want to take the price per square foot and then multiply it by the square footage of their home to find out what it is worth. Sounds reasonable right? Wrong….

(An example I see a lot): A heated and cooled finished room that is attached to the main house but you get to by going outside of the main house should not be included in the main GLA.

To read more, click here

My comment: written for real estate agents, but many appraisers, including myself, regularly get asked: “what is in the living area” by agents. I do. This article focuses on ANSI and may help you explain it to them. There are links to his other blog posts on this, and related, topics.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?

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When 1,000 square feet doesn’t count in an appraisal

When 1,000 square feet doesn’t count

By Ryan Lundquist

Excerpts: One of the most interesting homes I’ve seen just sold. It was brand new, four stories, and a halfplex. Oh, and on paper it was 3,000 sq ft, but about 1,000 sq ft didn’t count in the square footage. This is definitely a conversation piece, so I’m thankful Realtor Brian McMartin agreed to do a Q&A. I hope this will be valuable and interesting. Any thoughts? This is an example of When 1,000 square feet doesn’t count in an appraisal

Quick points:

This house has 1,000 sq ft that is not permitted as square footage. The “non-conditioned” space looks just like square footage.

Understanding permits really does matter…

Interview with selling agent plus Ryan’s (and appraisers’) comments. Worth reading.

To read more, click here

My comment: I see non-permitted areas in homes a lot in my city, typically converted basements. Fortunately, I can get the permit info easily from the city and the property owner does not “get into trouble” because of my inquiry. I am lucky.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?

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Measuring Bi-level homes square footage

 

GLA Issues When Appraising Split & Bi-Levels… Where The Ground Meets the Wall

Excerpt: When it comes to appraising split-level and bi-level dwellings, trying to calculate the gross living area (GLA) can be tricky. If you’re trying to figure out what the gross living area of one of these types of homes is, there are some important things to consider. For example, where the ground meets the exterior wall of a particular level. Measuring Bi-level homes square footage is tricky.

In real estate, the line at which the ground intersects with the foundation of a home, is called a grade or grade line. Did you know that where the ground meets the exterior wall of a level, can have a direct impact on value? How so? Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it, shall we?…

To read more, click here

My comment: Very comprehensive, well written, article. Don’t miss the fun “split” video at the end. Hint: be sure to watch until 1 minute mark.Note: I publish a graph of this data every month in my paid monthly newsletter, Appraisal Today. For more information or get a FREE sample issue go to https://www.appraisaltoday.com/products.htm or send an email to info@appraisaltoday.com . Or call 800-839-0227, MTW 7AM to noon, Pacific time.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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Why Don’t Real Estate Agents Measure Houses?  Humor

What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?

Tax records and Square Footage in Appraisals

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Price per square foot not very reliable for appraisals

Why price per square foot is not the appraisers choice

By Rachel Massey

Excerpt: Often, buyers and sellers are under the impression that it is simple to price a house by its square footage. Nothing is further from the truth, unless of course, all the comparable properties considered are within a couple square feet of each other and have the same quality and condition and are in the same immediate neighborhood with no variation in the value of the site.

Underneath all is the land. This means that a house that sits on a hypothetical 60×120 sqft site should have the same underlying value if the house were 1,000 sqft or 2,000 sqft. If land is selling for $50,000 for this 7,200 sqft lot, then the value of the land does not change in value because it has a larger or a smaller house on it.

For more information and to check out the graphs click here

My comment: Good explanation and graphs. Written for buyers and sellers but a good explanation when you are trying to explain why Price per sq.ft. often is not reliable. Also, a very good blog post marketing to buyers, sellers and real estate agents.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

Covid-19 Residential Appraisers Tips on Staying Safe

When 1,000 square feet doesn’t count in an appraisal(Opens in a new browser tab)

What is Included in Appraisal Square Footage?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Tax records and Square Footage in Appraisals(Opens in a new browser tab)

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Agent square footage and sales prices for appraisers

Agent’s Source Of Square Footage May Affect Sale Price

Excerpts: If you use county tax assessor information as a square footage source in your listings you may want to rethink this. I recently did a study to see how homes sold based on where the agent got their information from and I have to say what I found was intriguing. Agent square footage and sales prices for appraisers is important.

The Greater Alabama MLS, of which I am a member, provides the source of square footage information that is included in the listing. The four sources include tax records, seller, building plans, and appraiser.

Below the article are links to some other good posts by the author on this topic.

My comment: Very interesting analysis and graphs. My MLS is the same, except “other” is included and tax records is the default. Tax records are iffy in California as Prop 13 passed in 1979 and records have not been updated since then, unless there is new construction. Also, what assessors include in GLA can differ from what the current market does. Some neighborhoods and properties are reasonably accurate and some are way off in my small city.

I have done a lot of relocation appraisals, where 2 or 3 appraisers appraise the same house. If we had the same square footage it was sorta suspicious… Some measure to the half foot, rounding up or down, some use decimals, etc. It is not exact.

I can really see a demand for using appraiser measurements. I will be writing an article in my paid newsletter soon about this topic. There are a few appraisers who do them, including discussing pricing and liability.

Appraisal Business Tips 

Humor for Appraisers

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For Covid Updates, go to my Covid Science blog at covidscienceblog.com

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