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It's a.......EARTH HOME!?!

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Tiny280

Thread Starter
Sophomore Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Ohio
Oh happy day! I checked MLS BEFORE accepting an assignment. I'm going to make that a regular habit in future.

It's an EARTH HOME, completely buried in the ground except for the front door and four or five windows (yep, dirt and grass for a roofing system).

It's an FHA order, so I checked the HUD site for guidance. No hits or hints when searching for "earth home".

Anyone been down this road before, or should I just reject the order, with apologies for my utter lack of competence of course (thank-you USPAP).

In this market area, earth homes go WAY past atypical. unique, or any other descriptor of a white elephant. I am aware of only one other earth home in a five county area, and it has never been sold. But then again, it's not like this type of home isn't easy to miss when driving down the road. (Anyone from central Ohio area seen one of these in the comp sales? Anything at all within 100 miles of Columbus...?)

With so many boring routine assignments lately, I'd like to sink my teeth into something a bit challenging (for an appropriate fee of course :wink: ), but without some help from my friends :) , this one will be rejected.
 

JeffMann

Freshman Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
reject and get on with your life?????
 

Blue1

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Checking with the MLS doesn't always work......as we speak I've got an Octagonal with "wings." MLS calls it a "unique" home. Guess I shouda known anyway........
 

Daniel Williams

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Appraiser Trainee
State
Illinois
Blue,

Go figure....inacurate MLS data! :evil: :evil:

I'v seen "earth Berm's" labled as Ranch and Bi-level. It sucks when your comping and cant get good, factual data! I work a large rural area and don't have time to educate the RE agents as to "house Styles" :!:

Our MLS also only has the field "Foundation" agents typically mark "Concrete" or "Block" instead of Basement,Crawl, Slab. I am good at deciphering....but sometimes it is simply impossible. County records suck also. One county down here seldom has ANY info on the dwelling! How would they tax the citizens fairly? (much less accurately).

Appraisers get held accountable.......how about holding assessors and RE agents equaly accountable!

By the way Tiny....I am doing a similar home right now. 2800 Sf fully underground. 1 large sky light, 3 escape hatches and corresponding hidden passageways to them. I Agree with the others...........PUNT!!!!
 

Ben Vukicevich SRA

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
New Jersey
Tiny280

HUD always gives you guidance, well sort of. If you read 4150.2, you're obviously lost. But if you've read the Transmittal Letter for 4150.2 (Hah, who has read that) you would see that it refers you back to 4150.1 Paragraph 12-18 Earth Sheltered Housing.

Go to hudclips.org and search for 4150.1, click on Chapter 12 and page down to 12-18.

The Transmittal Letter is just as important as 4150.2 as it refers back to some old handbooks, especially 4150.1, for "procedures for valuation anaylsis."

Check it out.

Good luck

Ben
 

Dan/Fla

Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
Question if covered with earth how would you measure to figure square footage, FHA states you better no be off on by more than 10%. I agree with the other Punt, not worth the trouble for one fee.

Earth covered +or - for Brick, Concrete Block, ect. if it worth even more if the Grass is Green? : )

This is a real Catch-22
 

Mountain Man

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Georgia
:lol: Glad to know someone else got one of those. I axed a similar question a few months back in the old forum (do a search for some really good comments). But I basically agree with the others, punt and let them owner finance it.

Mell.
 

Blue1

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Daniel in SoILL,

I can really relate! In my area, Realtors are not even measuring homes anymore because of "liability issues." We don't even know if the GLA is correct because our County Assessor will not release any improvement information on a property without a written letter from the homeowner, a pint of blood and your first born! (just kidding about those last two) Half the time the AP numbers on the MLS listing are missing or wrong. I just did one where the MLS said 4,360 sq.ft. and I measured it at 3,500 sq.ft. (just a bit of a difference) I went to County Planning, paid $10 and got a copy of the permit....guess what?......3,500 sq. ft. The Realtor took the sellers word for it and didn't even disclose that on the MLS data sheet. Can you say lawsuit? That's right, the buyer is suing the Realtor. (Good Luck)
 

Tim Hicks (Texas)

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Texas
If there are no comps, then it is a challenging appraisal, but that does not mean it can not be appraised. If you are worried about a review, what are they going to use that will prove your value wrong. Get out you Marshall & Swift, check building cost for earth sheltered homes versus the typical homes for the area, measure from the inside walls, make appropriate adjustments, stay consistant and do the best you can. Try to use other "unique" properties (log homes, geodesic home sales, etc). Remember, earth homes do have some appealing qualities that typical homes do not have, but they also have some less appealing qualities. I believe, earth homes are supposed to be more energy efficient, can be tornado or hurricane proof, and actually have appeal to some people or they would not exist. I don't believe I would enjoy mowing my roof, but "different strokes for different folks." You will have to make some subjective adjustments with regard to appeal and obsolescense, but that it what you get paid the "big bucks" for. Good Luck.
 
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