“I paid $25,000 for a new roof and AC unit. How much is that worth in an appraisal?” I get questions like this all the time and my answer can be frustrating as I say, “It depends.” Here’s my thought process though and why I can’t just rattle off a quick number. Anything to add?
The full amount: A new roof and AC unit are costly, and sellers often want to pass on the full cost to buyers. The idea is, “Hey, I spent twenty five grand, so the buyer is going to reimburse me.” But cost doesn’t always equal value, and it’s not so common for buyers to pay “dollar for dollar” either.
Boring & bling: A roof and AC unit are definitely important, but they’re sort of boring maintenance items instead of bling. What I mean is buyers don’t tend to visit a property and say, “Oh my gosh, did you see that epic new roof? I’m in love.” Nope, they tend to be more impressed with the latest trendy features instead of the age of the roof or AC unit.
Bare minimum: Buyers expect a working roof and AC unit as a minimum. Lenders definitely expect a roof with a minimum of two years of life also. This is why buyers aren’t always willing to pay big bucks for these features because on some level they simply expect them to be adequate already.
Long-term improvements: A roof and AC unit are going to be an advantage for decades, but a buyer might only be in a house for 10 years. So it probably doesn’t make logical sense to pay for the benefit of the entire lifespan of these items in one instance. In other words, the seller has added marathon improvements, but buyers may not pay that during their sprint to purchase.
Location: An AC unit in Antarctica probably isn’t too valuable, so on some level we have to consider location. On a related note, the higher-end of the price market might react differently compared to the lower end of the market. The truth is buyers in some locations or price points are going to be more informed or picky about certain features. Let’s remember energy efficiency can be a factor here too in light of extra savings.
The comps: At the end of the day we have to look to the market for the answers. I tend to consider all the things above, but I also have to be careful not to impose any of my general thinking on the appraisal. Here’s the key. What have buyers been paying for these features? As we look at comps, what seems to be a reasonable amount that buyers would pay? Let’s study comps to begin to get clues about value.
I know, I didn’t actually answer the question. But that’s not my goal here. My goal is to highlight some important thinking as we try to find the answer.
I hope that was helpful or interesting.
CLASS I’M TEACHING: I’m doing my favorite class at SAR on May 28th from 9am-12pm called “How to Think Like an Appraiser.” Sign up here.
Questions: What point stands out to you the most? Anything to add?