Golf Course View1

Most people are not surprised to hear that a golf course view is a marketable amenity for which buyers pay more.  Did you find yourself saying, “Well, of course”?  Carol Vergara and I were surprised a few years ago when we were asked to argue the market reaction to golf course views.

The data we researched included properties surrounding a specific golf course and other courses in Rockland and Westchester County.  In every MLS listing researched of a property viewing a golf course it was described in the marketing remarks as an amenity.  When local real estate brokers in those areas were surveyed all considered a golf course location positive in terms of view and prestige, even if homeowners had to yell “fore” in their backyards.

We also analyzed sales over a 4 year period in a townhouse development built around a golf course and marketed from 2005 through 2009.  Within that complex, similar units, contracted at the same time, with and without a golf course view were analyzed.  Based on that analysis, the premium paid for a golf course view ranged from 5.9% to 6.85% depending on the contract year.  The sales manager for the project confirmed these results.  Throughout the marketing of the project, regardless of changing market conditions, buyers paid more for units with a view of the golf course.

Since it is difficult to find a significant number of properties that are comparable except for the view, the data is old. We frequently look at our market to ensure that the difference remains.

What does this mean on an appraisal in our market? While it is important to remember that there is no hard and fast rule, it could mean that a property with a golf course view could be worth ± 5% more than a comparable property (please see our blog post “The Search for Perfect Comparables”) without a golf course view.

So, as a homeowner or real estate professional, from your experience or perspective what is your thinking? How much do you think a golf course view is worth?


Good News Here

So, it has been a long time since I posted to this blog! Mea culpa, mea culpa! My absence has been for very good reasons…my appraisal business has been busy, thanks, in no small part to referrals from many of you. Thank you!

Carol Vergara and I have started Vergara Fox & Associates, LLC. We offer tax representation to homeowners. Both Carol and I are experienced tax representatives and are excited about teaming up!

You can hear more at our new Website http://vftaxreps.com and blog http://vergarafox.wordpress.com .

Both Carol and I continue to maintain our appraisal businesses and for clarity are keeping our tax representation and our appraisal businesses separate.

Wishing you well during this snowy Winter!

So you thought you were done…you learned all of the tax appeal vocabulary and process, got everything in on time, you in a sense “ran the good race.” Now, you find out that you were denied a reduction in your property assessment or disagree with the reduction given your property by the BAR. What is a homeowner to do? Ask yourself…do I have a strong case? Do I have the time/energy to continue? Do I feel qualified to represent myself? If you answered yes read on for an explanation of the next steps in the process.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the BAR, you may seek judicial review by beginning a tax certiorari proceeding in New York State Supreme Court, pursuant to Article 7 of the Real Property Tax Law, or by beginning a proceeding for Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR).

According to the New York State Unified Court System, “a Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) is a less costly and more informal alternative to a formal Tax Certiorari proceeding, which can be time consuming and expensive.”

SCAR was developed to provide homeowners with a simple way to challenge their assessments. It is only available to owner-occupants of one, two or three family dwellings which are used exclusively for residential purposes, or the owners of vacant land that is not of sufficient size to contain a one, two or three family dwelling. Continue Reading »

Timing and Mindset really are everything. Move over Tony Robbins.

I have done several appraisals this spring to help sellers decide whether 1) to reduce their asking price or 2) take what they considered low offers. Rarely am I asked to do pre-listing appraisals which could save sellers time, energy, and money. Recently, I appraised a beautifully restored house that had been on the market for many months and had received-what seemed to them-only low offers. The homeowners were confused and frustrated, and, at that point, they were committed to selling. With the information from the appraisal they understood the situation in their specific market much better and were able to look at the situation more realistically. This is what a good appraisal does. The homeowners thanked me for my “candor” and accepted an offer. Continue Reading »

Most of us are grieving our taxes in the sense of sorrow and disbelief…but do you  have a case to literally grieve your taxes? A friend of mine received a flyer in the mail from a company that offered to represent him in grieving his taxes. Saving money sounded good to him-as it does to most of us-so he signed some papers and the company did the rest. He saved a few hundred dollars on his property taxes. We talked after the fact and my friend found out that he had a stronger case than was negotiated….he could have saved more. The company did not notify him of anything, they just settled.

I don’t know the intention of the company that assisted my friend. I am not saying that everyone sending out fliers is unethical. There are many ethical and professional people who help homeowners negotiate the process. I do think that people should get recommendations before they choose professionals to assist them! And by professionals I mean appraisers, and/or tax representatives (should you choose that route). I also think that whomever you use should be local and know the market.

I would have liked to educate my friend about the tax grievance process as it was designed to be user friendly. That being said it is fairly confusing to many. I am going to give you the advice that I would have liked to have given my friend. Here is a list of things that I think people should know before and while they grieve their property taxes. Continue Reading »

I have been asked by several people to describe how appraisers measure square footage. This is an important issue during the residential real estate appraisal process as appraisers use square footage as a significant factor when choosing comparable sales.

There is a guideline-ANSI Z765-2003-used by myself and many appraisers. This guideline, while not a regulation, is a part of the Appraisal Institute curriculum and recognized by many federal agencies. It was created by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) at the request of the National Association of Home Builders in 1996 and updated in 2003. The standard describes measuring and calculation procedures used to determine the square footage of detached and attached single-family homes. The Appraisal Institute curriculum also states that appraisers should be aware of how measuring square footage is done in their area…and, to make it all more interesting, some of the bigger players in the market place (FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, etc.) have their own standards. Continue Reading »

In our tax grievance appraisal work we help people navigate the property tax system. It can be a confusing process…one indeed to “grieve” over (pun intended).

Our purpose here: to clarify how to determine if you are over assessed when your municipality assesses at a percentage of market value.

Also included:

1) Clarification of tax vocabulary from your tax bill

2) A method of determining the fair/full market value of your property actually used by your municipality. Continue Reading »

I am frequently asked, “What makes a good comp?”  In appraising it is important to make sure that your comparables (comps) are similar to the property being appraised (aka subject property). Location should be the first consideration when choosing comparables. Then, comps should be similar to the subject property in terms of sales price, age, gross living area, site (land), location, style, condition, room count, and amenities (i.e., basement, garages, decks, patios, fireplaces, etc.).

For mortgage appraisals, lenders typically require appraisers to use three closed sales and two other listings (these two can be pending and/or active) as comparables. Lenders now require that two of the sales be closed within the last 90 days. The comps should bracket (one on either side with the subject in the middle) the subject property’s major characteristics in terms of sales price, age, and Gross Living Area (GLA).   Continue Reading »

“Isn’t It Ironic…Don’t You Think?” No, this is not a tribute to Alanis Morissette. I was thinking about the home-selling process. When homeowners prepare to sell or refinance their home they often spend a great deal of time and money on aesthetic improvements to make their home more appealing…and rightly so. The irony is that when they move into the appraisal process those aesthetic improvements often don’t add a great deal to the value of a house in a “good marketable condition.” Continue Reading »

Hello world!

 This is my first post. The purpose of this blog is to answer questions about real estate appraisals and the real estate appraisal process. I want it be a forum for industry professionals and lay people to discuss issues that affect the Westchester and NYC real estate markets.  General questions and comments are welcome!

Come back soon to hear more!