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Bi-levels; Tri-levels

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liznindy

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Indiana
Those of you who are familar with these designs.....do you include all living area in the GLA or only the area which is above grade?

I include all living area in the GLA with explanation that some of the living area is below grade. The comparables I select when appraising these designs are also similarly affected and similarly gridded (all living area reported in above grade). The market for these types utilize the area below grade as living area with bedrooms, baths, family rooms etc (windows are above grade).

Some of the tri-level designs ALSO have a basement (in addition to the below grade living area). These basements I report as basement area.

VA wants the below grade listed as 'basement'......I have trouble changing my 'style' for VA...
 

realbiz

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
Tri-levels in my area are partially below grade, and are included in the square footage legally. It looks like you are handling it correctly. But, is this area included in the county records (permited)? If so, keep doing it the way you are.
 

Mike Boyd

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
California
I agree. Write an addendum and explain all comparables are similarly influenced and you have no way of knowing how much of the comp is below grade. State in your addendum that this is an acceptable appraisal practice with this type of home.
 

jeanwillick

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2003
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Michigan
I always use it as below grade finished area. The 1004 requests "above grade" so to do otherwise, I feel, is misleading. Also the room count asks for "above grade" rooms on the Improvement Section. How do you resolve this by doing otherwise?

If you are using other bi or tri levels as comps, they will be reported same way with below grade finished area in the basement area on grid. Below grade is generally concrete block, slab construction and above grade is generally stick built. When you combine all as above grade, you are mixing the 2 types of construction--how would you cost it out?

The unfinished basement area: Figure out the percentage between unfinished and finished and report, for example: 70% finished which allows for the finished rooms, thereby leaving the other 30% as the unfinished basement.
 

Thomas Fiehler

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2003
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Ohio
Gotta agree with Jean on this. All "lower levels" is just another phrase for basements IMHO. Most of the county records include this area in the sq. ft. listed on property record cards, but one just needs to pull the sketch and recalculate it. Of course we could always bring ANSI in to this discussion and I'm sure someone will. In Ohio, we have no standard listed in state reg's as how to measure a house. For some reason they quote FNMA guidelines and have required appraisers to take additional classes (usually cost approach) and figure out how to measure a house.
 

Obsolescent

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Minnesota
In my area a tri-level is all above grade, usually with a partial basement. A bi-level (Split level) has the lower level and, if it has a basement, its generally called a sub-basement.

I generally do not included the Lower Level in the GLA. The main thing is to be consistent in the grid and explain how you handled it.
 

DaveH

Junior Member
Joined
May 5, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Ohio
I agree with both Thomas and Jean, Ohio needs to get a clue, but that's a different matter. Anyway, if the comparables are similar in construction and style the you are on the right track, I just hate it when someone uses a ranch or 2 story as a comparable for the Tri- Bi-Level types just to get a number.
 

Cliff Salisbury

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
Ohio
I do not do VA work. On all my appraisal for a tri-level or a bi-level I count the lower level that is finished as gross living area. If it has a fouth level like a basement I count that as a basement. Below you will find a statement that I put in all appraisals that are a tri-level or bi-level. I have used this statement for over 15 years and have only been questioned once. When I pointed out the statement in the appraisal they said "Oh" and that was the end of the conversation.

THE LOWER LEVEL IS CONSIDERED TO BE A INTEGRAL PART OF THE LIVING AREA IN THIS AREA. THUS THE LOWER LEVEL HAS BEEN INCLUDED IN BOTH THE SUBJECT AND THE COMPARABLES.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
When I was a trainee, one of my supervisors taught us the 60% rule -- if the lower level of a split level home is 60% above grade (i.e., the sill of a standard height egress window is at grade or above) then that level is considered above grade. (For two stories and ranches it's basement no matter what -- go figure.)

At any rate, that's the way split levels are considered in Metro Denver; the as per local custom rule may be different elsewhere. There are times when comps are scarce, that I'll treat the lower level of a split as basement, when comparing it to a ranch subject with a walkout; but those are special cases. The key is to treat lower levels in subjects and comps the same, whether as above grade GLA or below grade basements -- along with the appropriate comments.
 

leelansford

Elite Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Illinois
...

VA wants the below grade listed as 'basement'......I have trouble changing my 'style' for VA...

In all seriousness: if such is the case, don't appraise for the VA.

Question: why do you elect to treat below-grade area as GLA when such does not fit the definition of GLA?
 
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