There is a joke going around my appraisal office where we ask each other after viewing comparable sales, “Did we bracket the color?” This is funny to appraisers because bracketing has become a big issue in appraisal review.
Let me be upfront; I do support the concept of bracketing. I believe that if you cannot bracket a feature with something the same or similar (i.e. one that is better and one that is worse) on a comparable sale, then it is difficult to show convincingly that you have properly accounted for that feature in the appraisal. However, some residential lenders and appraisal management companies have taken bracketing so far that appraisers are waiting to be asked for an additional comparable sale to bracket the color of our subject property — thus, our in-office joke.
Today I pulled up to appraise a Portland, OR property and I could not believe what I saw; a camouflage-painted house complete with sexy silhouette accents. Fortunately, I was appraising a neighboring home. If I were appraising this home, bracketing the color might actually be a good idea (if it is possible) to determine what affect the color of this property has on its marketability.
The instinctive conclusion is that the typical buyer (or typical buyer’s wife) would be turned off by a home painted in this manner, and would require a discount to the price relative to the cost for repaint plus any financial incentive necessary for the buyer to make that repair. However, how do we know the typical buyer would be turned off if we don’t have any sales to support that? This market could have a strong segment of buyers that might be attracted to camo style paint and are willing to pay a premium for it (not likely, given the rule of conformity).
I once had an appraisal instructor tell a story about a house he appraised for the purpose of setting a list price. The house had been decorated in a kinky fashion. When he appraised the property, he estimated a reduction in price based on the perception that buyers would want to renovate. It turned out that the property was placed on the market, there was a bidding war, and the home sold for far more than the appraisal value estimate. These examples show why bracketing is important and should be at the heart of what appraisers do.
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If you ever find yourself among a group of real estate appraisers, you will usually hear someone recount a humorous tale. Typical home appraiser stories range from bazar things seen in homes to attack by animals. My experiences include goats and other farm animals living inside homes, nude paintings of the homeowners (reminiscent of the famous George Costanza Timeless Art of Seduction pose), accessing vacant properties by climbing through second-story windows, lots of cats, hoarder homes, shock by electric fences, animal feces in places it should not be, inspecting the interior of the wrong house (not my fault), tiptoeing around a backyard rabbit hospital so as not to disturb the cardiac patients, pursuit by homeowners who saw me take a comparable photo of their house, and run ins with all manner of animals including dogs, cats, bees, snakes, llamas, and horses.
One of my favorite yarns involves a narrow escape from animal attack. I was appraising a property in a rural area near Portland, Oregon about four years ago. A horse pasture was located at the rear of the property. I had been taking photos of the front of the house and decided to get a rear photo. Around the house I went, with an electronic tape measure in one hand, a tablet computer over my shoulder, and a camera in my other hand. To get the best photo of the house, I had to walk by a detached garage, past a vacant chain-link dog kennel, and into the pasture that included horses on the far side of the field.
The best spot for the photo was between the kennel and the pasture. I started to take a picture but turned around to see a large black horse on a deliberate and accelerating trot aimed directly at me. The horse was not galloping, but it was coming faster than I can run and its head was positioned in a most unwelcoming manner. Ears back and nostrils flared, the head looked more like an angry bull than the typical friendly horses I’ve seen on other appraisal assignments.
There was no time to run; I just had to get into the vacant dog kennel. I don’t remember if I cleared the fence in one leap or if I used a foothold. I just know that I made it at the moment the aggressive horse reached the fence. A moment later, I heard the sound of a snarling dog slowly moving out of a doghouse at the other end of the kennel.
After leaping over the only reaming safe side of the enclosures, I finished the exterior appraisal inspection. My computer was unharmed and so was I. While viewing the interior of the home, I pretended nothing had happened, but my heart rate did not go down until I was driving home. Now when I think back, I wonder if the owner had watched me from the kitchen window as I first escaped from their horse and then from their dog. If so, they probably got more laughs out of what they saw than I did.
Above is a side view of the Portland home I was appraising. In the photo, you can see part of the dog kennel behind the detached garage. The thing is — I never did get the rear photo of the house to use in the appraisal or to share in this blog. Consequently, I learned that appraisers should always ask homeowners to control any animals (even though they usually say that the animals are friendly) and appraisers need to make sure that distractions do not make them forget important things for the appraisal, including a rear photo.
If you have any humorous real estate appraiser stories, please consider sharing them in the comments section below this blog. If you find this information interesting or useful, please subscribe to my blog. Also, please support us by making Portland real estate appraisal related comments on our blogs and YouTube videos. If you need Portland, Oregon area residential real estate appraisal services for any reason, please contact us. We will do everything possible to assist you.
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