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High Ranch Issue

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Tony V

Elite Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
I have a little dispute going on with an appraiser (lets call him Bob) I do some split fee work for. He is located in Dutchess County New York.
First, the background. He has been in the profession for 17 years, as a 47 (Lic) till November 2007 when he became a 45 (cert). All of his experience is from the upstate region. From working with him for the past two and a half years his main issue is getting the job done properly, never an issue over values…

I on the other hand have been in this since 2001 and have been a 45 for the past 3 years. All of my experience is on Long Island.

We are both sticklers for detail, doing the job properly and pretty much an#l (don’t go there K Mc) at what we do. And of course both of us are rather stubborn.

Several years ago he attended a CE class (in upstate NY) in which a discussion came up over High Ranch style dwellings. The instructor, who, according to Bob is also a State board member stated that High Ranches are actually Raised Ranches and the lower level (even if totally above grade) is considered to be a basement, thus the GLA of this style dwelling consists of only the upper level. During this portion of the class, the instructor also stated that the Town Assessors who were carrying the lower level as GLA were wrong and those numbers should not be utilized when acquiring the comp info from these offices. The reasoning as presented is more of an Appeal/Design issue. The overall message in this portion of the class was don’t appear in Front of the board with this lower level as GLA as it is a guaranteed way to get hammered. The class was in agreement with the instructor over the High Ranch issue

About three weeks ago we had a conversation over this situation. We spent about an hour on it talking about market reaction, regional differences, GLA per County/Township Assessors offices. I even brought up the question over High Ranches with full basements, which did rather stop him in his tracks, as he had not even heard of such a dwelling. His thought s is that a H Ranch w/ basement is actually a ranch with a “”double basement””. I did send him some listings/sales/County assessors info via e-mail to show him what is was trying to explain in terms of market reaction and regional market info, etc… After this talk we basically agreed to disagree, however that does not make the issue go away.

The overall concerns are that Bob is concerned over the inclusion of the totally above ground lower level as GLA will get us in deep **** in Albany as result of the instructor (State Board Member) and the overall comments made during class. My concern is that non-inclusion of this area will get us in deep **** in Albany.

I am hoping to get some input from New York appraisers in both Upstate and Downstate on this issue.
I also am aware that we have some State RA’s who cruise this forum but remain “”under the radar”” and I would appreciate their input on this also.

If we have any State Board Members who also are “”underground members””, I would really appreciate their input also.

For those who wish to remain under cover you can PM or E-Mail. (resurf @ optonline.net)

Thanks,
Tony V

If anyone needs some clarrification on this subject just ask..
 

Edward OConor

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Joined
Apr 27, 2006
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
Tony,

I understand both sides. I think that the key is market reaction and safety issues. For a Hi Ranch on Long Island the general public consider (market reaction) the first floor to be GLA. Which is evidenced by comparing a sale of a Hi Ranch with a 1300 sq.ft second floor to the same size Ranch style.

I do feel that either way could be considered valid as long as all the comparables are treated the same as the subject and you can explain what you did and why you did it.
 

Kevin Mc

Elite Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
Hmmm.

I agree with Ed for the most part. While Bob's market may treat Hi Ranches that way, for the most part our's does not. Certain areas do have the "raised ranch" style Hi Ranches with 1st level slightly below grade.They are not the norm. I consider it living area,more often than not the tax man considers it living area and the market most definitely considers it living area. How does " Bob" reconcile a Hi Ranch with two above grade levels and a full basement? Two Basements? Not in our market. I would be hard pressed to have either Dominic Pompeo or Matt Smith tell me that our market doesn't recognize a full above grade level as living area. I would place a very strong wager on the fact that they wouldn't.
 

MBD

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
New York
I just did a split level in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. The first (split) level was accounted for as a finished basement, and the other levels as above grade. Due to the lack of split level comps, I had to use some high-ranches. Me and the owner of the company I work for, who is also a licensed appraiser instructor, concluded that the first level was a finished basement based on the height of windows above the ground.
 

Kevin Mc

Elite Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
We are talking Hi Ranches here Mike. Do you count the first level (if it is 100% above grade) as living area?
 

Claude From NY

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
As far as Hi Ranches are concerned, the market has always recognized this type of dwelling as two stories on slab, never a basement. I'm talking about the "traditional" Long Island Hi Ranch where the first level is fully above grade. Raised, low and split ranches are another story. So called "walk-out" basements is also another deal. Beside, the Hi Raunch is the perfect set up for a second kitchen / apartment. :)

Fannie Mae 405.06 says:
Only finished above-grade areas should be used -- garages and basements (including those that are partially above-grade) should not be included. We consider a level to be below-grade if any portion of it is below-grade -- regardless of the quality of its "finish" or the window area of any room.

HUD:
B. BASEMENT BEDROOMS, BASEMENT APARTMENTS
As a rule basement space does not count as habitable space.
If the bedroom does not have proper light and ventilation,
the room can not be included in the gross living area. The
following requirements apply to the valuation of below-grade
rooms:

o The windowsill may not be higher than 44 inches from
the floor.

o The windowsill must have a net clear opening (width x
height) of at least 24 inches by 36 inches.

o The window should be at ground level; however,
compensating factors may allow less.

In all cases, use reasonable care and judgment. If these
standards are not substantially met, the basement area
cannot be counted as habitable space.
 

MBD

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
New York
We are talking Hi Ranches here Mike. Do you count the first level (if it is 100% above grade) as living area?

If it is completely above grade, I would include it as GLA.
 

Daystar

Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2006
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
Bob is wrong!. Plain and simple. Both levels should be considered as GLA, I have built about 20 Hi-Ranches all of them were Permitted, Approved and CO'ed as GLA for both levels. What is disturbing is an instructor making a statement that is not validated, and could cause those in the class to be mislead to improperly clasify this portion of the home. Raised Ranches are another animal.
 

REM sleep

Sophomore Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
market reaction

I do work in both areas and interpret them differently due to market reaction or market acceptance. LI - two stories with a slab & Putnam & Dutchess - 1 story with a basement. I always felt it was for tax purposes - on LI, It's 1/2 or fully above grade, finished, heated, split stairs - let's tax'em - more tax revenues.

With regard to the Hi ranch with a full basement. I had one built in West babylon in '02. The builder was unabashed about marketing it as a one that can easily be converted to a mother/daughter. They are built to look more like colonials and conform to the neighborhood, but they are relatively cheap to build, and at the end of the day it is still just a two story box - not much character. He built the piping in on the first floor for a second sink ready to go if we wanted the second kitchen. Kind of like a "low key" 2 fam - central entry Foyer, no high stairs at the front entrance etc. I never converted the first floor as I sold it but the new owner has since done it. Additonally, the adventurous investor can tuck an additional apartment into the basement. With regards to your thread, these things are hi ranches in function as many Hi Ranches are suited for first floor apartments or mother/daughter layouts. Since they are built in more affordable neighborhoods, they are marketed as hi ranches and sell with the additional income possibilities. In better neighborhoods, these structures aren't built - they build Colonials. :laugh:
 
Last edited:

KenRossman

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2004
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
IMO, in a fully above grade High Ranch, both floors usually would be considered GLA. There are exceptions however, like the sample attached - see photo, where the construction quality of the lower level is not consistent with that of the main level (block or PC walls etc.) In such cases I would treat the lower level as basement and NOT include it as GLA. (The sample provided might be in fact a raised ranch with the lower level a ft or so below grade [can't tell conclusively from the photo], but I have come across them fully above grade occasionally in E Setauket, Brentwood & Wyandanch, etc).

The most important consideration is consistent treatment of the subject and comparables with adequate explanation of what you did and why you did it.

My 2 cts...
 

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