It is easy to say, “This home is higher quality.” However, as appraisers we need to be able to recognize specific differences in home quality that result in a difference in value. When we can point these quality differences out, appraisers are much more likely to produce a credible opinion of value.
Quality in home construction comes from the level of workmanship, design, and materials. Each one of these factors plays into the overall quality of a home. It is possible to have high quality materials and low quality workmanship or design. This is common in many unpermitted or DIY (do it yourself) home remodels.
The most common quality factors that I hear home buyers and real estate agents talking about are granite counters, hardwood floors, and stainless appliances. However, although these quality features may be in style at present, listing these features alone does not give appraisers the full picture of a home’s overall quality. Appraisers should know if the counters are tile or slab, if the hardwood floors are solid, prefinished, or engineered, or if the stainless appliances are economy, designer, or commercial quality. Additionally, granite counters, hardwood floors, and stainless appliances are a very narrow view of quality. This is because quality is evident in every material, finish, and system of a home.
This Portland Home has more than just granite counters, hardwood floors, and stainless appliances. Indicators of quality in this house include a coved ceiling with boxed beam accents and real wood crown moldings, extensive hardwood built-in cabinets with detailed offsets and accent doors, commercial quality built-in appliances, many lighting fixtures, and extra plumbing fixtures (second sink and pot filler). All of these home features play into the overall quality of this home.
A major area of quality that real estate professionals are slow to point out, but that the market recognizes is architectural design. A home with a two-story living room and a two-story foyer is much more costly to build than a similar-sized home without vertical spaces between floors. These open areas, when balanced correctly with the rest of a home’s quality, will make a house feel larger and typically reflect in a significantly higher sales price (differences more easily measured by an appraiser). Other indicators of architectural design quality are roof slope and complexity in shape. These factors also make a property more costly to build and typically reflect in a higher sales price due to street appeal.
This Portland home has many exterior features that are clues into its overall construction quality. The first quality feature on this home that stands out is the complex hip tile roof. Tile roofs require a larger support structure and hip roofs that change shape require a great deal of skill, time, and materials to build. The complex shape of this house makes it costly to build, but also attractive to many home buyers. Other quality indicators in this picture are the designer quality windows with custom trim work, stone veneer, columned architectural porch, and a stamped concrete drive.
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