Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Every Home Should Be Measured Before Selling
February 18th, 2015 1:09 PM

One of the services that an appraiser provides is a home measurement sketch of the property.  This service can be quite valuable prior to listing a home for sale, particularly in the greater Portland, Oregon area, since county records are often incorrect and square footage is often the most important factor (aside from location) that determines value.  The benefit of having a home measured prior to listing is something that one of my clients knows firsthand.

A couple weeks ago, David Axness, Principal Broker at Axness & Kofman contacted me to measure a property that he was listing.  Portland Maps indicates that this property has a little over 2,000 square feet of living space based on Multnomah County Assessor records.  After careful checking, my measurement concluded that the property has 471 more square feet, which could result in a sales price that is as much as fifteen percent higher.  David said, “I wasn’t able to list it for more, but we went from having no showings at all to several and got an offer.”

This is an extreme example of how inaccurate county records can be around Portland.  Most of the time, if the county records are off, it is only by a smaller amount.  However, no seller would want to lose even one percent of the sales price just because the home was not professionally measured.  Even if the appraiser measures lower than county records, checking the size can be a good thing.

Imagine that a buyer contracts to purchase a house, and the lender’s appraiser finds that it is not as large as advertised.  This could result in a low appraisal, a troublesome failed sale, or a buyer that has new negotiating leverage.  If the lender’s appraiser doesn’t discover the discrepancy, the agent or seller could have liability, despite the disclosures that agents routinely place in listings.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading,

Gary F. Kristensen

Good stuff, Gary. I love the example. While it may be extreme, these situations are probably more common than people think. Sometimes information in public records is erroneous in light of builders sending in wrong information or simply because the Assessor is actually using an estimate rather than something definitive. I measured a house in the Sacramento area that was actually 400 sq ft larger. The house was a different model, but the builder likely reported a different model to the Assessor. It sounds good to pay less in property taxes by having a lower square footage, but when selling it's a huge asset to show the correct square footage.

Posted by Ryan Lundquist on February 18th, 2015 1:33 PM
Great point Ryan that the very large errors are more common than we think. Thank you so much for your comment.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on February 18th, 2015 1:37 PM
Right on Gary! I did two appraisals for sales last week where one was 300 square feet and the other nearly 600 square feet less than the listing showed. Both of these used owner estimates as the source of square footage. How do you tell a buyer under contract that their 3,200sf home is actually only 2,600sf? Even though it's the same home as when they did their walkthrough, I'll bet it now feels smaller to them! Jim

Posted by Jim Anderson on February 18th, 2015 1:46 PM
Thank you for the comment Jim. I know the feeling because it happens too often that homes are not as large as the real estate agent advertises. A measurement prior to listing those homes would have saved a big headache for all parties.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on February 18th, 2015 2:07 PM
Great post Gary. The Sacramento Area is the same way, especially the older homes. I too do measurement services, primarily for Realtors. BTW, that is a GREAT sketch! Portland has one of the best appraiser's in the nation! Keep up the great work.

Posted by Jeff Hamric on February 18th, 2015 2:37 PM
Thank you for the comments and the compliments. That was a difficult property to measure and sketch.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on February 18th, 2015 2:45 PM
I couldn't agree more Gary! In Chicago, we have Chicago style bunaglows that more times than not have a finished attic, but is almost never counted in the assessor records. I hope that this post reaches as many Portland real estate agents as possible. It could save them a significant amount of money in the long run. As always, Gary Kristensen and A Quality Appraisals are the best source for all of your Portland real estate appraisal needs!

Posted by Paul Rowe on February 21st, 2015 11:58 AM
Thank you for your comment Paul. Wow, the attic square footage is a big unknown in your area. In Portland, the attic is usually reported, but it is often measured wrong.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on February 22nd, 2015 11:04 AM
House measurement is a great service to offer in addition to traditional appraisal services. It can provide a valuable service to agents and help them set themselves apart from the run of the mill agent that just quotes what is on the county records.

Posted by Tom Horn on February 23rd, 2015 8:03 AM
Thank you Tom. I know appraiser home measurement is particularly important in your market area given that the county does not provide measurements.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on February 23rd, 2015 9:21 AM
Getting a property professionally measured is a fantastic way to avoid possible issues with listing imperfections. If a buyer finds out that a listed property is actually smaller than what the agent lists it as, this could destroy any trust the listing agent may have established with a potential buyer.

Posted by Lucas on February 24th, 2015 12:42 AM
Thank you Lucas for the comment and support. We need to get the word out.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on February 24th, 2015 12:45 AM
square footage also affects property tax. multnomah county records more square footage than we have and an extra bathroom that has never been there

Posted by andrew musick on July 22nd, 2016 10:23 AM
Hi, I have been searching the net high and low and can’t find an answer to my question. You have have two similar houses in Portland, one had an additional 500 sq feet added in 1990. The other had 500sq feet added in 2010. Because of this one has an annual tax bill of 4,000 while the other has an annual tax bill of 10,000. My question is, if all else is equal, would they appraise the same in a purchase appraisal? Thanks

Posted by Martin on November 21st, 2017 11:43 AM


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