It can be nerve-wracking to have an appraiser come out. So I wasn’t surprised to receive an email from someone worried about his vintage home. Will the appraiser give value to the vintage features? How can an owner ensure the appraiser will give proper value? Let’s talk about that.
Question: How do I get an appraiser to value these vintage features?
Answer: That’s a great question. I’m not trying to be frustrating by not answering directly in the way you might wish, but the most important thing to remember here is that value is found in the market. What do buyers prefer? Are buyers paying more for homes with vintage features or are they paying more for homes that have a vintage vibe but with modern upgrades? I find sometimes in the vintage world an owner will restore a property to its original state. I get that, but just because so much time and money was spent on a restoration does not mean the market is going to pay the same amount as a house that has been remodeled with current upgrades. In some cases buyers definitely pay for older era elements, but at the same time they tend to pay more when the kitchen is modern (and not original). I don’t say this to be offensive, but only to highlight the reality that the proof of value is found in the comps. In other words, if there is more value for being totally vintage, then an appraiser ought to be able to find similar homes that show higher prices. At the same time I get your concern because it’s easy to see blue and pink tile from the 1950s and immediately ding value because it’s outdated. This is why it’s going to be important for the appraiser to be in tune with the local market and be objective by letting the market speak rather than being shaped by his/her personal preferences. To be honest I remember in my early days coming across a Mid-Century Modern home and making the mistake of assuming the original condition was worth less when in fact it was something desirable for the market. Doh!!
Restoring a house can be very expensive, so I recommend making a detailed list for the appraiser about what has been done. This can help the appraiser understand the quality and cost of the improvements. Keep in mind if restoration is a trend in the neighborhood, it might help to mention that or even share specific examples you have seen. I’m not saying to pressure the appraiser to “hit” a certain price point (please don’t), but only highlight what is happening in the neighborhood. Personally I love hearing about what’s happening in a neighborhood from someone who lives there because it’s data for me to consider. Just remember not all the money spent on a restoration or remodel will show up in the value (it always shows up on HGTV remodels though). On a practical note you can use my appraiser information sheet if you wish.
BIG POINT: Just because something is done to a house does not mean the market is willing to pay for it. When it comes to a full vintage restoration, we have to ask if that’s something the market is willing to pay for or if it’s just one owner’s passion for yesteryear. I think of restored cars as a good example of one owner dumping a ton of money into a vehicle only to have the market pay less. I’m not saying that’s the way it always works in real estate in every case, but restoring something to its original state can be very costly and the market might not absorb that cost. The proof is in the comps though.
I hope this was interesting or helpful. Thanks Luis Sumpter for the first photo.
Questions: Have you seen the market pay more for homes that are restored to their original condition? What examples can you think of where the market did NOT pay for certain upgrades? I’d love to hear your take.