Renovating Your Home? Beware of Three Updates that Don’t Add Value!

Everyone wants a “turn-key” home these days. That means once they turn the key and open the front door, the house is “ready to use” with no repairs needed.

If you’re thinking of selling your parent’s home, you may not be able to make it turn-key. But no doubt you would like to make it more marketable. I say, go for it! I am an advocate of getting as much as you can for your home. One thing you don’t want to do is spend money on the wrong updates. Why is that?

Your goal is to update your home to get a higher appraised value. But sometimes the updates you make can have the opposite effect. Here are the three worst renovations:


1) High-end appliances or adding more living area

Such updates may not increase the value of your home if these are uncommon in your neighborhood.

Buyers aren’t going to spend thousands of dollars more for “bigger and better” features if the average sale price for homes in the area is lower.

2) Specialized /personalized features

Over-personalized improvements may not appeal to potential buyers. You may be a UK fan, but the UK tiling on the bathroom floor may not appeal to the UofL buyer that is considering your home. Try to keep the updates neutral since buyers won’t pay more for homes with several features they will need to remove or replace.

3) DIY projects

When it comes to remodels or repairs, it is best to invest in hiring a professional to do the job. Unless, of course, you have the home improvement skills to pay the bills.

There’s no doubt that do-it-yourself improvements can save you money initially. But, there is a risk of compromising the condition of the project, and in turn, decreasing the home value.

Key takeaways…

Some key takeaways when thinking of updating your parent’s home are:

1. consider your market – is the update you are considering common and/or in-demand in your area?

2. keep home improvements consistent with the rest of the home, and the rest of the neighborhood.

3. use a professional to do the work, this way the quality of the update is not compromised.

Also, It is also a good idea to consult a real estate appraiser to determine which improvements will get you the best value for your home.

To learn what your home would be worth after making certain repairs, give me a call, I’d be happy to help.

How to Read an Appraisal Report

When you get your appraisal report it may sometimes be twenty to thirty pages in length. This may be overwhelming to digest. This article will let you know what are some important elements of your report.

Most appraisal reports will consist of the same main parts: basic property information, comparable sales information, and value conclusion.

Here is a guide where how these three items are often laid out in the appraisal report: 

A Description of the property (land and the improvements on the land)

The beginning of the report will typically contain the property’s basic information. The address, property tax, the type of property, the size of the land, any updated or renovations done, and other general information. It is important that the information in this part is all correct to ensure that the appraiser can find and compare it to similar homes to come up with an accurate value. 

        Pro Tip – If you are the homeowner ordering the appraiser to help you determine the market value in order to sell the property, then this information is already known. Therefore, this section may not need to be as extensive.


The next prominent section of the appraisal is where you can find the homes that the appraiser used to compare to your property, and their corresponding sales prices. Here you may also notice adjustments in the comparables values. These are made in order to estimate the market value of your home. The appraiser should be able to show the bases for these adjustments.


At the bottom of the page featuring comparable sales is one of the most important parts of the appraisal for you, the client, your home’s value. To better understand HOW the appraiser arrived at this number, look for the reconciliation or the summary conclusion section. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what is included in an appraisal report.  However, now that you have an idea of three important sections (property description, comparables analysis and value conclusion/reconciliation, keep in mind that you should carefully read it and check if there are any errors, missing information, and whether or not you feel that the final value is correctly justified.  A good appraiser will not be concerned if you call to ask a question or two about his conclusions.

Download the eBook to see where you can find these important sections in the appraisal report.

5 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Appraiser

You know you need an appraiser to value your home, but when you look online, there are so many to choose from! Sure price may be a factor, but simply going for the cheapest appraiser may likely lead to disaster! But what else do you ask the appraiser when you give him or her a call????

This blog post will guide you through that process….

It is important to choose the right appraiser to value your property because it will save you a lot of time, money, and energy. In order to determine the best appraiser for you home, here are some categories of questions you can ask before you hire:

‘Basic information’ Questions

You should get to know the appraiser you are going to work with. You may ask if they work alone or with a company, if they work full time as an appraiser, how many appraisals they usually do in a day, or a week. Also get their contact information and when is a good time, you can reach them. This can make communication easier especially when you might need to ask questions or provide information about anything concerning the appraisal.

Licensure Questions

Ask if they are licensed or certified, and if they have other professional designations or are continuing any education – This would let you know if the appraiser is qualified to do the job and also what types of properties they are permitted to appraise. Certified appraisers will have completed more basic education and will generally have a greater depth of experience compared to licensed appraisers.

Experience Questions

How long have they been appraising property? Are there specific types of properties they appraise? – The appraiser’s experience and knowledge in the field are very important things to consider. It is recommended that the appraiser you hire has at least 5 years of experience for simple properties and at least 10 years for more complex ones. You would also want to know their experience in appraising homes similar to yours, especially if your home has some special features.

Time-frame Questions

Ask when the report will be ready – This will ensure when you can expect the report to be ready. It is important to establish a date to avoid delays to the whole process of buying or selling a home.

And perhaps the all time favorite…

Money Questions

Ask what is their fee and the basis of what they charge – it is advised that you do not hire an appraiser that charges a percentage of the appraised value. This indicates a bias in the home’s value. Appraisal fees vary depending on your location so researching the usual cost for your area and type of home will help give you an idea of the range.

It goes without saying that you need to be able to know and trust the professional who will have access to your home and accurately determine its value. Being ready with questions of the main things you need to know about the appraiser will ultimately help you to select the right person for the Job.


Should I finish a home improvement project before the appraisal?

You just took a sledge hammer to the wall of your tiny kitchen which has been confining you for years!!! AHH! The feeling of liberation! Your kitchen expansion project is underway! Wait a second…you need some cash to finish the project, so you decide to refinance. But does the project need to be complete before the bank will lend the money?

Unfortunately, I can’t answer for the bank. However, I can let you know some appraisal terms that come into play. “as-is” value and “subject to” value.

What do “as-is” and “subject-to” values mean?

• “As-is” value – An estimate of the market value of a home in its current condition, use, and zoning.

• “Subject to” value – This is what the value will be whenever certain conditions are met. It is determined by taking into consideration the proposed improvements.

If the as-is value (broken wall and all!) is acceptable to the bank, they may lend! However, there is one caveat…The appraisal report must identify and describe physical deficiencies that could affect a property’s safety, soundness, or structural integrity. If the appraiser has identified any of these deficiencies, the property must be appraised “subject to” completion of the specific repairs or alterations.

Two major take aways: 1) how much has your home value dipped considering your property in its current stage of renovation and 2) does the current stage of renovation represent a health and safety risk!

What is Market Value?

In the context of selling your home or buying a home, what exactly is market value? This sounds like a really simple question. Someone might respond, “market value is the price that someone is willing to pay for a home”. However, there are other factors that must be taken into consideration.

Here is a definition from the Fannie Mae Selling Guide (This definition is also stated in most appraisal reports related to mortgages)


Market value is the most probable price that a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.

Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:

  1.  buyer and seller are typically motivated; both parties are well informed or well advised;
  2.  each acting in what he or she considers his/her own best interest;
  3.  a reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market;
  4.  payment is made in terms of cash in U.S. dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable   thereto;
  5.  the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative   financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale.

One main take away is that for it to be said that a home was sold at “market value” five conditions have to be met.

Real world application of this point
If a home’s prior sale price was not market value then an appraiser should not use that prior sale as a comparable.

How to Value Your Home in a Bankruptcy?

A financial crisis could happen to anyone at any time. If you have to file for bankruptcy, and you are a homeowner, how does your home come into play?

A bankruptcy filing includes forms called schedules. Your schedules must list the value of each item of property you own. The legal standard for home valuation in bankruptcy is fair market value.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Can I simply put my best guess of my home’s fair market value?” The answer is, “Yes” you can. Unfortunately, your best guess may turn into a big mess if it totally misses the mark . In addition, it may not be able to stand up under scrutiny.

Three Ways to Determine Fair Market Value – and their associated cost


Formal appraisal – $$$
This involves hiring a real estate professional to come to your home, inspect it, and run an analysis of the market in your area. The appraiser will then provide a report that indicates a professional opinion fair market value for your house.



Formal market analysis – $$
This is a second, but less accurate option. A real estate professional will look at market conditions in your area and analyze recent home sales and current home listings in your area to determine what your house would likely sell for. If homes were apples, the formal market analysis method would be like finding out which isle in the grocery your apples are located in, and what the average price of apples are. The formal appraisal method would be like a report telling you the price of your specific apple (i.e. red delicious) and perhaps how that price compares to other apples.



Local listings comparison – $
This is a third method of determining fair market value. Let’s call it the do-it-yourself method. You review real estate listings in your neighborhood and estimate a value for your own home (taking into account the condition of your home) based on what other houses in your area are selling for.



Selecting the valuation method for your situation will depend on your purpose. The more important your home value is to your situation, the more thorough and formal a method you should choose.

Two Numbers You Should Know Before Buying a Home

When I prepare appraisal reports for buyers who are wondering if their potential home purchase is worth the ticket price, I often include homes that are currently listed for sale.

Why include listings and what other number must you consider?

Why include listings? – This gives the client an idea of the price that other people are charging for homes similar to the one they are thinking of buying.


Besides price what other number should be considered? – Besides the price tag, another very important piece of information is the DOM – Days on Market.

This lets you know how long a home has been sitting on the market. The higher the DOM, the longer it has been sitting.

This suggests a problem selling the home, perhaps it is over-priced.


Bottom line: prices of homes that have sold, that are comparable to the one you are thinking of buying, are key indicators of value. However, two other category of numbers that must be considered are 1) list prices of homes on the market as well as 2) their respective DOMs, as these can let you know when a home may be overpriced.

3 benefits to a Paperless Appraisal Office and How To Get it Done!

If you have an appraisal business, you’re constantly looking for ways to be more profitable. Well, its possible that an overlooked way is sitting right on your desk! It’s that little or big piece of paper (sales contract, county assessor’s document, etc.) Do your really need a paper copy? How much money is it costing you? A box of paper at staples, 500 sheets, is approximately $15. If you go with the premium stuff, it could run you $45! So clearly the elimination of paper equals a reduced business cost. That’s the first benefit!

Another benefit is a more efficient workflow. If you are waiting for a piece of paper, such as your letter of engagement to be signed, it’s a lot faster when you can send it to be signed electronically, than having to print it for signing at inspection.

Lastly, you’re helping to preserve the environment by having a greener workplace. So here are six steps to help you get started on going green and paperless:


  1. Get everyone on board. Explain why there is a need to go paperless and its benefits for your business. Present ways of how the office will have to change the system of creating, exchanging and storing documents.
  2. Create copies of important existing documents and store them in Google Drive or Evernote. Start using these online tools for storing internal office documents.

3. When working with clients and vendors, ask for digital versions of documents. Always opt for email rather than mailing hard copies.

4. Invest in software and training. I use Total for Mobile to do all of my appraisal inspections. I can take photos, enter property characteristics, and complete an amazing sketch all in the palm of my hand without a pen! It then syncs perfectly with my computer at the office.

For digital signing, my go to app is SignNow. Plan and determine what type of app, database, or system would be right for your business and have employees go through training so that the whole office will be able to file and access information digitally.

5. Get started. Manage the switch so that the paperless system is maintained, but also have the office address flaws in the transition that may need to be optimized.

6. Inform clients. Your clients will need to know and adjust to your switch to paperless so that they may expect documents shared electronically going forward.

For me, personally going paperless has been liberating! I am required to keep a work file forfive years, and with the security features in place with many cloud-based storage apps, my info is better protected there than in a file cabinet in an office basement.

Don’t get me wrong, paper still has its place, and its going to be around for the foreseeable future. However, going paperless as on overall business strategy can be a big step towards saving your appraisal business time, money, and space. At the same time, it gives your documents better security. Following these steps, both you and the environment win!

To find out more about how I run my paperless office, or to order an appraisal, you can reach me at 502-309-2323 or at

Spotlight on Prospect


Prospect is a friendly and inviting area so you shouldn’t have any trouble fitting in. But what should a Louisville appraiser or anyone considering a real estate purchase there know? Here’s a brief neighborhood profile to give you an idea of what it’s like to live in Prospect:

These are just a few things you should know about your potential new home. If you find this information interesting or useful, please like Choice Appraisal Services, LLC on Facebook and please support us by making Louisville real estate appraisal related comments on our blogs and YouTube videos.



Spotlight on Fairdale


Fairdale is a friendly and inviting area so you shouldn’t have any trouble fitting in. But what should a Louisville appraiser or anyone considering a real estate purchase there know? Here’s a brief neighborhood profile to give you an idea of what it’s like to live in Fairdale:



These are just a few things you should know about your potential new home. If you find this information interesting or useful, please like Choice Appraisal Services, LLC on Facebook and please support us by making Louisville real estate appraisal related comments on our blogs and YouTube videos.