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Tips for Increasing Your Home Appraisal Value: An Interview with Randolph Kinney of On Time Appraisal

By Randolph Kinney

When it comes to assessing the value of a home, is there anything a homeowner can do to help increase the value? Well that's why we interviewed Randolph Kinney of On Time Appraisal to learn more about what a homeowner can do to sell their house to their appraiser.

Tell Us About On Time Appraisal:

My company was founded in 2003, although I started appraising in November 2002. I was a semiconductor engineer for 30 years prior to this.

My mission is to provide a well supported opinion of value to solve the appraisal problem that my client has. The appraisal process and scope of work that is required to develop that value is critical.

What Influences the Value of a Home the Most?

The deciding factor for value of a home is its location, its location within the neighborhood boundaries. Within the neighborhood boundaries are different designs-style homes with different year built, different gross living area, different quality factors, different condition factors, different lot sizes, and different amenities such as a pool or a view. One of the most eclectic neighborhoods is Old Carlsbad that has a mixture of all of those factors. The problem becomes matching up homes that have similar characteristics with the subject of the appraisal. As far as what matters most to a probable buyer of a home (assuming an owner-occupant) is its functional utility and its kitchen followed by the bathrooms. Older homes that are updated to the market expectation for kitchens and bathrooms will sell for more and quicker than those that are not. Usually, however, the gross living area size goes with the number of bathrooms and bedrooms; the larger the size of home, the more bathrooms and bedrooms and additional rooms it will have.

How Important is The Staging and Other Little Things When it Comes to a Home Appraisal?

Little things typically don't matter. However, for example, dirty dishes in the sink does not matter but if the rooms have so much clutter where I cannot see the floor or walls, I will have to insist that be corrected so that I can see, photograph and report what is really there. Some little things do matter like peeling paint on exterior wood. Anything that can result in damage such as exposed wood that will deteriorate over time (especially homes in areas that are close to the ocean) must be corrected. Anything that affects safety, health, security or soundness of structure has to be corrected. Another example would be a missing door on the bathroom or a missing exterior door going into the garage from the outside; these are examples of security issues.

Advice For Someone Who is Looking to Increase Their Appraisal Value?

Anyone who wants to show me data that I should consider in the valuation process, that would cause me to increase their appraisal value, is more than welcome to do so. An example might be the amount of money they spent remodeling the bathroom, itemized (I will include that in the appraisal report). Or maybe a print out listing the recent sales that the homeowner believes are comparable to his home. Or maybe they have knowledge of what's inside of the home that sold and that information is not available on the multiple listing service. Sometimes the County record is wrong for the gross living area and the homeowner knows which homes are not reported correctly; that matters.

How Much Research on the Neighborhood Do You Do?

I spend maybe up to 3 or 4 hours researching the neighborhood to determine what are the most salient characteristics that affect value. The first thing is the boundaries of the neighborhood and are there other competing neighborhoods that also should be used to determine value. After I determine the screening parameters and limits to select comparable properties to the subject, I verify each and every home that is meeting that set of criteria as to whether that sale, pending sale, or listing is a normal sale, a distressed sale (REO, short, estate, investor flip sale), days on market, multiple offers, seller concessions, type of financing, additions without permits, accessory units, or other things that matter. In the addendum of the appraisal report, all listings, pending sales, and sold properties that were considered (met the screening criteria) will be listed. This will form the basis of the data analysis and market extraction for value influence. I make my own graphs showing an eight year price per square foot polynomial regression trend graph, last 12 month price per square foot linear regression trend graph and price versus GLA linear regression graph. After visiting the subject property photographing and measuring, when I get back to the office I can then select from the many properties I have data on and choose the most similar, most recent and proximate properties to determine value. I also download the entire raw data of neighborhood sales to be used for neighborhood analysis.

How Important is the Neighborhood When Assessing Value?

The neighborhood is very important. Not all neighborhoods are equal in desirability or utility. Some neighborhoods are preferred because of the school district. Other neighborhoods are preferred because they are Tony like La Jolla compared to Pacific Beach. That zip code makes all the difference in value.

What Services do You Offer?

My appraisal services that I offer can be the simplest to the most complex depending on the client's problem and the need of the client. For example, there are automated valuation models that look at value statistically defined by neighborhood boundaries and property characteristics that affect value. Zillow uses a computer model that does an estimate of value. I can produce a more accurate value estimate based upon more recent data and my experience appraising in that neighborhood using a defined data set that I obtain from the local multiple listing service and county records. This is known as a desktop appraisal.

The most complex appraisal assignments involve unique problems associated with the subject property. That can be the highest and best use analysis where the current use is not the best and highest value to the land. This results either in a tear down of the existing improvements and building a new and larger structure or splitting the land into multiple lots for development. This requires that I make trips to the local planning and zoning authority to consult with the building department and planning department to determine what is allowed by zoning and what are the costs.

Another complex appraisal assignment would involve damage to the structure. The question becomes what is the value of the structure with the damage, as-is. It may require a retrospective appraisal to show what the value was before the damage and then after the damage to either make a claim against the insurance or to support a lawsuit to recover damages.

Typically, most of of the appraisals that are ordered come from lenders, either for purchase or refinance or second mortgages. About half of my business is non-lender appraisals from attorneys (bankruptcy, divorce, lawsuits for damages), individuals that need a fair market value to settle estate matters or sales between relatives, and realtors that have problems selling a given property and they want to know why.

What is the Best Way to Contact You?

Through the Internet: otappraisal.net

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