Monthly Archives: August 2016


You want to sell your house. You think your property is worth $250,000 and then along comes an appraiser who appraises it for $220,000. Over my 46 years in the business I have completed hundreds of estimates (appraisals) on homes in the tri state area. Have some of them been a disappointment to the homeowner? Sure they have. Have some of them been off the mark? Very few, but some. Remember, appraisals are one peron’s opinion of value and it is not an exact science – that’s why different appraisers may come up with slightly different values.

When you contact a real estate agent and ask him or her to give you an idea of what your property is worth, if they are true professionals and if they are ethical, what you should expect from them, among other things, is an honest answer to the question of value. How do you know if their answer is honest and reliable? If they provide you with current and reliable data to support their conclusion (and if they have not manipulated the data) then you can be fairly sure the value they recommend is accurate.

Dubuque Home Appraisal

Compare your property to comparable listings.

When I am asked to estimate the value of someone’s property I always ask if they have an opinion on what their property is worth and if so how did they arrive at their conclusion. I have received some interesting responses. For example – “My brother-in-law, who knows a lot about real estate, told me my house was certainly worth X”; or “I paid $100,000 for it and have lived here for 20 years. If it appreciated at 5% a year it must be worth X”. My question then would be “what data did you draw on to support that conclusion?”

Actual age vs. chronological age.

Take two houses that are each 40 years old. One has been maintained and upgraded over the years so it reflects current decorating styles etc. The actual age of this house is 40 years but the chronological age is maybe 10 years. The other house which has not been touched in 40 years has an actual age of 40 years and a chronological age of 40 years. Something to consider when you are thinking of value.

My house is worth more because it is my house!!

I’m sure you feel the same way. Fact of the matter is your house is worth what it is worth because it exists in an ever changing market place. So, one would need to go into the current market place (within the last 12 months) and find out what properties (called comparables or “comps.”) that are similar to yours sold for-realizing that no two properties are alike and that to arrive at a reliable conclusion one would have to make adjustments for the differences.

An example would be your house has central air but the “comp” house does not; you would have to add the value of the central air to the sale price of the comp to adjust for that difference. If it was the comp that had the central air and not your house you would subtract the value of the central air from the sale price of the comp to adjust for the difference.

You apply all the adjustments to the sale price of the comp to come up with an adjusted sale price which would be indicative of the value of your house. It is important to try to find at least three good comparable sales to compare the subject property to in order to get a reliable result.


Once I have found good comps and have made all of the appropriate adjustments for the differences between the comps and the subject property I always ask myself “is there any reason or condition of the properties that might require me to make an overall final adjustment to the value that my analysis indicates?” An example might be that the owners have pets and there is a strong pet odor in the house. I would consider making a negative overall adjustment to the value I came up with on my analysis. Or maybe the property is superior to the comps in every respect. Then I am going to consider making a positive overall adjustment to that value.

Always remember though the one thing no appraiser can adjust for is emotions – either a seller’s emotions or buyer’s emotions – which could affect what a seller is willing to accept for their house or what a buyer is willing to pay for your house.

Can I manipulate the data to influence the final outcome?   Sure!!  I could use inflated/ deflated values to make my adjustments; or I could choose comps that are not reasonable or that I know have an inflated/deflated value. However, that would not be honest nor would it be fair to you the owner. Frankly, that’s not the way I do business!!

So there you go!!!  Although not an exact science appraising does take a certain level of expertise and market knowledge – at least to be accurate. So the next time you need an appraisal on your house be sure to ask your agent to explain how they came up with the recommended value and what data they used to arrive at their conclusion. If they can’t give you an answer look for another agent.


If you live in the Dubuque area and looking to sell, then contact American Realty. We can help you set a price that represents its true value and helps you get your home listed as quickly as possible.