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Three Story Home

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Nancy Jackson

Freshman Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2003
:question: My house was just appraised for refinancing. It is a three story, mansard roof home, built in the late 1800s. It has a small storage attic over one bedroom only. The third floor is and always has been living space. We use it as a bedroom and a family room. It is and always has been heated.

The appraiser considered our third floor finished attic space, not living area. His total of living area was 1729 sq ft, whereas my tax authority records living area as 2306 sq ft. which includes the third floor. He also gave a room count, of 7 total rooms, 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths. The house actually has 9 total rooms, 4 bedrooms, a family room and 1 1/2 baths. In his cost approach he used only the 1729 sq feet and added on $20,000 for amenities/kitchen equipment/attic.

His comparables were similar in structure, although he considered only their first and second floors as living space and their third floor as finished attic space also.

I live in an urban area, where three stories are common. The appraiser was from the suburbs.

I believe the appraiser should have used the total living area, including the third floor square footage in his appraisal. What is your experience with three story homes?
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2002
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
Florida
It's slow in being used by all, but the ANSI Standard for measuring is the standard we all should be using.

Attic space being counted as Living Area needs to meet certain standards which your county officials may or may not be familiar with. It is extremely rare that an appraiser's measurements match the county.

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Ceiling height needs to be at least 7'.

No space is counted that is less than 5' tall.

The 7' or higher ceiling space needs to be at least 50% or more of the square footage that is over 5'.

Finish needs to be at least equal to the rest of the living area.

Stairs needs to be reasonably adequate - as in not narrow or steep.

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As long as the appraiser treated all the comps with finished attic space the same as yours, the appraisal is likely correct in it's comparisons.

Without knowing your market, I cannot make any further determinations. I hope this helps. I'll see if I can find the link to the ANSI Standards for measuring residences to post here for you.
 

Nancy Jackson

Freshman Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2003
My third floor is not and has never been attic space. It has always been living space. It has been finished since the house was built in the 1880s. It was never intended as storage. It is heated by the central system, has full height ceilings, a finished wood staircase matching the one to the second floor.

I believe the appraiser was consistent in his comparables, but our three story homes in this area are not two stories and a finished attic. They are three story homes.

I don't believe changing the third floor square footage to living area will change the appraised value in the sales comparison approach. There most likely would be a difference in the cost approach.

I received the loan and I believe the appraised value was a little low, but acceptable. I would just like to understand the standards before I approach him about his reasoning. I would like the appraisal to reflect accurate information and square footage, since it might be used by my credit union for home equity loans.
 

Nancy Jackson

Freshman Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2003
Meant to mention, I have a mansard style roof, so I have no space less than 7' in height on my third floor.

Thanks for all the info, Patricia
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2002
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
Florida
I'm glad it all worked out for you.

How does your 3rd story fit with the following ANSI Standards?

Ceiling height needs to be at least 7'.

No space is counted that is less than 5' tall.

The 7' or higher ceiling space needs to be at least 50% or more of the square footage that is over 5'.

Finish needs to be at least equal to the rest of the living area.

Stairs needs to be reasonably adequate - as in not narrow or steep.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2002
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
Florida
Ah, you replied regarding the ceiling height as I was replying again.

It's difficult to answer your question without seeing your house, but based on what you have written, it sounds like a 3rd story and very possibly should have been included in the total GLA. What are the stairs like?
 

Nancy Jackson

Freshman Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2003
[/QUOTE]What are the stairs like?

My stairs are finished, same wood as the stairway to the second floor, a little more narrow in width as those to the second floor, They are open to the second floor hallway and the family room on the second floor, have ormamental railings. The stairway does turn midway up, making it not as navigable as those from the first to second floor.

I talked to a city appraiser, who said she would definitely include it in gross living area.

I talked to the appraiser who did the appraisal and he said since he treated the comparables in the same way, that the value would not be different if considered gross living area, he did not see why I should question it. He said he went by Fannie Mae standards and he shouldn't even be talking to me, which I can appreciate.
 

Nancy Jackson

Freshman Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2003
I meant my stairway to the third floor is open to the second floor hallway and the THIRD FLOOR family room. I am a bit confused today.
 

Nancy Jackson

Freshman Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2003
:question: How do Fannie Mae guidelines differ from ANSI guidelines? The appraiser mentioned he followed Fannie Mae guidelines. I found the ANSI guidelines on the internet and my third floor definitely qualifies as living area.
 
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