Unique Properties Deserve a Fair Appraisal


Q.  We will be selling a property that our realtor calls “non-conforming” for the neighborhood.  It happens to be in the middle of a subdivision of newer homes.  Though older, our property is expanded to a much larger size than the others in the neighborhood.  It is also on a double lot.  It was practically rebuilt with very rich upgrades.  It is also gated.  How can we arrive at a true value for sale?

A.  Unusual properties definitely pose a valuation challenge.  It would be relatively easy to establish market value if it was one of the other homes in your subdivision.  Appraisers determine market value by comparing the property in question with three similar properties in the neighborhood that have sold and closed within the last six months.  In our current market there are plenty of closed sales within the last six months.  But for a truly unique property, finding comparables to use can be taxing. 

Before putting your property on the market I would recommend you get a professional appraisal.  The cost could be in the $400 to $800 range.  It is well worth it so you have documentation to support your price.  Ask your realtor or your loan broker for recommendations.  From what you are telling me your home could be considered an estate.  The appraiser could go to the nearest upscale area and find comps there. They might look for areas with a similar school district.  Schools affect the value of an area.  Also, value-added benefits such as expensive upgrades and awesome landscaping help improve the value of a property.  The appraiser might have to go back further than the normal six months then adjust for the increase of the market since then. 

In the current market where there is low inventory, a buyer might waive the appraisal and pay the additional funds if it doesn’t appraise for the offering price.  This happens especially when there are multiple offers.  Some buyers are making cash offers these days so they don’t need an appraisal to get a loan.  However, they often still want to make sure the property is worth what they are paying.  So they would want it to appraise.


Q.  Our family will be putting our house up for sale next month.  We want to have a garage sale to get rid of years of stuff.  Do you have any tips on conducting a garage sale?

A.  A garage sale, like many things in life, takes more time and energy than you might expect. Start planning well before making the preparations for selling the house, such as staging and cleaning.  Sometimes the neighbors want to join you so you can have a block wide event.  This could generate more shoppers. 

Double check your items so you don’t end up selling things that you want to keep.  Decide if things are worth selling or not:  if it is junk, toss it out, don’t sell it.  Lay out your items by category, displayed neatly so customers don’t have to dig through boxes.  Put removable price stickers on the items.  Remember, garage sales are supposed to be bargains, so be objective and don’t over-price.  Keep a calculator handy.  Keep a tally of what you sold and don’t lose sight of the cash box. 

Advertise the sale on internet sites such as Craig’s List (www.craigslist.com); create a flyer and post it at local businesses and posts around town the week before the sale; borrow sandwich board signs with arrows from a local realtor and fly balloons on them the day of the sale.  Saturdays and Sundays will generate the most traffic.  Whether you are religious or not, pray for good weather. Start your garage sale as early as 8 a.m. and be prepared for early birds. 

Now that the garage sale is over and you sold all the treasures you could part with, donate or throw away the rest.  This is the time to start preparing your home for sale.

Posted on December 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm
Lynne French | Category: Uncategorized

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