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Tips for Increasing Your Appraisal Value: An Interview with Joyce Potts of Southern Appraisal Group, Inc.

By Joyce Potts

What are some of the services your company provides?

I provide honest and ethical residential valuations and reviews throughout Central Florida for a variety of clients and for multiple uses, including:

-Mortgage Origination & Lender Reviews
-REO/Bank Owned Properties
-ERC/Relocation Appraisals
-Consultation and/or Retrospective/Forensic Reviews including Expert Witness
-Testimony for Civil Litigation and Regulatory Agencies.
-Loss Mitigation (Short Sales)
-Push Back Reviews (Lender Buy Backs)
-HUD-1 and Contract Concessions Analysis
-Probate, Estate Planning, Elder Care Planning, Guardianships, Bankruptcy, Trusts, Dissolution of Marriage, Partition Proceedings. -Appraiser Administrative Complaint Defense Consultation
-Mortgage Fraud Detection and Prevention Counseling
-USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) Compliance
-Dodd-Frank Compliance, Subtitle F, Appraiser Activities Section 1471
-Independence Requirements and Compliance.

As an appraiser, what are the big influential areas you look to when deciding a home's worth?

Location, construction quality, design/appeal, condition, updating and/or remodeling, upgrades and features.

How important are the little things to you (e.g. trimming of the lawn, having a clean house) when it comes to assessing the value of a home?

General lawn and exterior maintenance as well as housekeeping can speak to overall condition. While most appraisers are trained to evaluate the property as if vacant, it certainly does not hurt to have the home in peak condition--much like if one was trying to sell a home for the highest value possible. The overall condition is hopefully in similar condition to the highest listed or sold properties if a homeowner is refinancing and they're concerned about maximizing their property's valuation.

Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to persuade you, as a home appraiser, that their house is actually worth more than it may appear?

It's common for homeowners to express their opinions of value or provide the appraiser with market data they think is comparable to their property. I generally am receptive to all the information anyone is willing to provide me, however, in the final analysis, the appraiser is responsible for delivering the most 'credible' valuation possible, per USPAP and client guidelines. Sometimes homeowner data is found to be highly reliable while other times the appraiser's research has returned more recent, similar data on which they deem is more credible.

Often homeowners will provide brag or feature sheet of all the upgrades and/or improvements that they've made. That's always a good idea as it provides items that may not be readily observable based on a walk-through, non-invasive, visual inspection, e.g., insulation and re-piping.

That said, many homeowners are not aware that the initial 'cost' of an item is not always returned in the open marketplace. It will usually be up to the appraiser to analyze the data to determine the return on major upgrades and features.

How much research about the neighborhood do you do prior to the home appraisal?

Most appraisers are considered geographically competent to know the primary 'nuances' within certain neighborhood boundaries, however, one of the benefits of using nearby, similar sales is that any locational influences are reflected in the final selling prices of other properties. In other words, if the market data is recent and shares similar external influences, they are 'inherent' in their final selling prices, in most cases.

How important is the neighborhood when it comes to valuing a home?

Neighborhood speaks to location and location is one of the primary search criteria that most appraisers invoke when searching for comparable properties.

Where are some areas that if the homeowner just took some time to fix up it would drastically improve their home value? (e.g. fresh paint, curb appeal, garage maintenance)

Again, it all speaks to a particular location and that sub-market's reaction to certain things such as condition, varying levels of updating/remodeling, size or gross living area, exterior design and appeal. Some areas within certain delineated boundaries have historically returned a higher amount per dollar invested. This is why a competent appraiser will do a thorough analysis as to the 'land value' and the cornerstone of any appraisal assignment, the Highest and Best Use analysis.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

Joyce J. Potts, SRA
R.E. Broker & Appraiser Since 1984
Cert Res RD559
812 Florida Blvd
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
(407) 629-5009 (Office)
(407) 629-9093 (Fax)
(407) 467-9517 (Mobile)
E-Mail: OrlandoAppraiser@aol.com

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About The Author

Joyce J. Potts, SRA, has 28 years of real estate experience with 33 years of full-time...

Phone: (407) 629-5009

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