Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Discrepancies between County and Appraiser Home Measurement
June 19th, 2015 12:12 AM

Appraiser and County Floor Plan Room Service Measurement

Lately I have been writing about appraiser home measurement and floor plan sketching services (some Portland, OR agents call it “Room Service”).  This week’s blog shares one example of a recently measured property that had had a significant discrepancy between the county records and actual measurements.

The above illustration shows my floor plan measurement on the left and the county records on the right, as well as a table comparing the two on the far right.  By looking at the floor plans closely, you will note some important differences.  First, the entire home is about four feet wider than the county records show.  This is most evident when comparing the wall between the finished area of the house and the garage.  Another significant difference is that the county shows the wrong location for one of the turrets on the second floor.  These variations, and other smaller discrepancies, result in the county having 275 fewer square feet on record for this property.

What could have caused the disagreement between appraiser measurements and the county?  I can only speculate in the case of this property.  It is quite possible that the county used plans submitted at the time of construction for the living area calculation, and that the owner or builder made modifications to the plans after obtaining permits.  Because of this experience, and many other similar ones, I have learned to always double check critical data regardless of the source.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading,

Gary F. Kristensen

Great article. The big difference that I have noted over the years is that some assessors tend to round the measurements which can make a big difference.

Posted by Casey Lyon on June 19th, 2015 6:17 AM
That is a big difference. A foot of difference every here and there can cause a big gap at the end. It looks like the county left out that funky shape on the upper level right side. Was that an addition? Or maybe it was too difficult to sketch, so it was just easier to leave out? I would imagine 275 square feet is quite valuable in the Portland area.

Posted by Ryan Lundquist on June 19th, 2015 8:12 AM
Great stuff Gary. First off, great sketch! I see this in some areas that are tracts in some of the Sacramento Area neighborhoods. It is hard because I only have access to the subject and it is sometimes 10 to 15% off. The other homes of the same model are most likely the same, but the MLS usually just auto fills on the MLS unless someone had an appraiser come out to verify GLA. I'm sure you have ran into some similar situations. What would you do in this case? Thanks, Jeff

Posted by Jeff Hamric on June 19th, 2015 9:46 AM
Thank you everyone for the comments. Casey, yes, the assessors in Oregon do a lot of rounding. On the above sketch, there are no decimals, except on the angled lines. Ryan, the funky shape is the staircase. Assessors in my area typically do not include the stairs in measurements, although they will say that they are using ANSI standards if asked. ANSI includes the staircase. Jeff, when it comes to making comparisons based on a measurement within an appraisal, that is another story. Appraisers need to try and compare apples to apples. It would be nice if we could measure all of our comparable sales. Since we cannot always measure our comparable sales, we might need to make judgments. If we know the other homes are model matches, then we should not make an adjustment for living area differences. Sometimes we might want to leave out measurement of a staircase (for example) in an appraisal if we think that our comparable sales are being measured without the staircase. All judgment calls. It would be nice if every agent would just order one of our floor plan measurement sketches ("Room Service") and place it in the listing photos. That would not only help to sell the property, it would help appraisers make the most accurate judgment when making comparisons. I heard someone else say that accurate square footage reporting is the currency of the real estate market.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on June 19th, 2015 10:49 AM
Seeking and finding the correct square footage can make a significant difference in appraisal values. Many banks these days want drive-by appraisals and if the only information used is county records that could under value the property in your example. If the price per square foot was $100 that is around $27,000, which is significant. Thanks for sharing Gary.

Posted by Tom Horn on June 24th, 2015 9:34 AM
This is great information! I have been a real estate broker in Bend for 40 years yet I was not aware of some of the info you have provided. Thanks!

Posted by Jim Johnson on June 24th, 2015 1:11 PM
Thank you Tom and Jim for joining the conversation. Tom, you're correct, the above property has a cost new of over $150 per square foot and likely a contributory value of over $100 per square foot. Jim I'm glad to have you following.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on June 24th, 2015 4:15 PM
Awesome Gary! I know how hard some of the homes are to measure and how important it is too have a professional like you do it. I just hope your real estate agents know as well! I know as the best Portland appraiser you will be educating them :)

Posted by Paul Rowe on June 27th, 2015 8:32 PM
Thank you Paul for your kind support. I really enjoy measuring homes around Portland.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on June 29th, 2015 11:56 PM


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