Importance of Accurate
Appraisers are humans, and mistakes are made but in the world of property measurement, these inaccuracies can add up to thousands of dollars difference in market valuation. It is surprising the number of homes that I have seen over the last 20 years that have been measured inaccurately. I'd like to take a minute and point out a couple of case studies:
Case #1: A two-story style home is appraised. This home has an open 10'x14' foyer to the second story. Upon review, the appraiser included this area in the GLA (Gross Living Area) of the home. This area has to be livable area to be included in the GLA. A void in the second story above the foyer is not livable area. By including this the appraiser inflated the market value by $16,000. That is a significant dollar amount and can impact your client's pocketbook significantly.
Case #2: A ranch-style home is appraised. This ranch home has an unfinished workshop area below the garage. The appraiser included this area in the basement sq footage of the home. The problem is this area is not connected to the home's HVAC system. If this area is not conditioned space it cannot be included as typical basement sq footage. It will be similar in temperature to the outside temperature and in the wintertime that's a considerable difference from the home's interior temperature. Individual adjustments should have been used between the two areas as market demand would differ.
It is relatively easy to check to see if the opposing counsel's appraisal may be inaccurate. Most counties have a website to research the GLA of homes. While these are not always entirely accurate they are a good baseline to start from. If the home varies more than 3-5% there is likely an inaccuracy in the measurement of the home. In the area I mainly cover the websites are as follows:
Rice County - Beacon GIS
Scott County - GIS3
Dakota County - GIS
When dealing with divorce appraisals and one party is buying out the other via a refinance it is important to note that Fannie Mae has changed their measurement standards for valuation. They now require that appraisers adhere to ANSI Z765-2021 standards when measuring residential properties. If this is not done it can affect the appraised value.
Another important note regarding appraisals involved in litigation is what form is being used. The URAR is the most common form used by appraisers as it is what most lenders require. This form is mandated by the GSEs for mortgage financing. This form is not to be used for anything but mortgage financing, it says so right in the form. If an appraiser uses this form for litigation there is a good chance the court will find this appraisal inadmissible which could jeopardize your client's case. Any appraisal used for litigation should be done on a GPAR (General Purpose Appraisal Report) form.
If you come into a situation where you or your client think that inaccurate appraisal measurements were made I would be happy to assist you. I can be reached at 612-386-2660. I also offer property measurement services to confirm measurements of residential dwellings.