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What is an ATTIC!

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JP Truce

Freshman Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2008
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Washington
Short story:

The subject is a 2 story duplex being converted back to single family. FHA appraisal order. Upon walk through it is discovered that the second floor is gutted to the studs. Asked a few other sources in my market area and two of them said to call it a one story with an unfinished attic........ This sounded ridiculous to me not to mention borderline fraudulent. Does anyone have any input on a better way to handle this situation.

m2:
 

rcsone

Senior Member
Joined
May 26, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Oklahoma
......tell 'em what's there and picture the heck out of it with plenty of appraisal report pictures included in submission and more in the file....you could miss a Cost to Cure estimate in dollars, but not intentions with a proper submitted report............best to all.....rs
 

c w d

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Professional Status
General Public
State
Florida
Interesting situation. I wouldn't call it an attic if it was formerly living space. Hmmmm, while it probably doesn't affect the soundness or safety of the home it could be construed as affecting livability or does it?

Is the home in a state of remodeling? Is there a specific reason the second story was stripped to the studs. Are there any features specific to an attic that would be required in order for the second floor to be considered an attic? Vents perhaps? If a garage were converted to living space and then later stripped and made into storage would you feel the same way?

This is why we make the big bucks *laugh*. I think, as long as you represent the second floor as it is it's up to you to opine whether or not it meets FHA guidelines since this is most assuredly a "judgment call" situation.

Now, that I've had time to drink a little more coffee the fog is lifting. Aren't there building codes that requires drywall or some other walling material in living areas or something? I would do a search of your local building codes. This may ultimately lead you to certain conclusions about livability, code compliance, etc, etc, etc. Maybe you should take a trip down to your local permitting office and talk to someone there.
 

Wendy

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
.....The subject is a 2 story duplex being converted back to single family..... Upon walk through it is discovered that the second floor is gutted to the studs.....

That is what it is - just like you wrote. Why describe it any other way? How you deal with it depends on the client's needs. Have you talked to them yet and explained the beast you have on your hands?

The two other sources in your market sound like "creative" fellows. I'd likely avoid their input as well.

As for my input, I'd be very careful if the client wants a cost to cure. No way I'd give a number unless it was from a reputable contractor's bid. Estimating costs for stud to finish work is a bit beyond your typical appraiser's skill set.
 

Greg Bell

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2006
Professional Status
Gvmt Agency, FNMA, HUD, VA etc.
State
Louisiana
It's an emergency , use public records..
 

c w d

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Professional Status
General Public
State
Florida
That is what it is - just like you wrote. Why describe it any other way? How you deal with it depends on the client's needs. Have you talked to them yet and explained the beast you have on your hands?

The two other sources in your market sound like "creative" fellows. I'd likely avoid their input as well.

As for my input, I'd be very careful if the client wants a cost to cure. No way I'd give a number unless it was from a reputable contractor's bid. Estimating costs for stud to finish work is a bit beyond your typical appraiser's skill set.

This is FHA though, so the appraiser needs to know how to address this specific situation, not necessarily how the client wants it addressed. It's not a clear cut situation. Does the appraiser consider the 2nd story gut to affect livability or now? Are there safety concerns that could be present? Are there code violations. All questions that need to be answered by the appraiser in order to complete this assignment.
 

Wendy

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
This is FHA though, so the appraiser needs to know how to address this specific situation, not necessarily how the client wants it addressed. It's not a clear cut situation. Does the appraiser consider the 2nd story gut to affect livability or now? Are there safety concerns that could be present? Are there code violations. All questions that need to be answered by the appraiser in order to complete this assignment.

Oops! my bad. I completely skipped over the FHA bit.

Sorry - I'm only 1/2 way through my coffee. :D
 

Wendy

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Florida
OK - FHA hat on now....

Here's a couple of questions/comments:

1 - If it was an up/down duplex, I'd guess the lower 1/2 (if still intact) would be considered livable. Not enough info to be sure.

2 - Safety concerns. Yep, I'd have some. Miss handling of the electric service would be my #1 concern. Have they messed with the wiring &/or panel? Better yet, is their buddy who pulled wire 10 yrs ago on a summer job their "electrician"? That's just a start.

3 - this is more of a general question & point of curiosity....is conversion to single family H&BU?
 

Marcia Langley

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Missouri
JP,

After HB&U (which I assume you've already done) I think this is something only you (who have actually seen the house and the neighborhood) can decide.

The goal is credibility. Whichever way you do it, you are obligated to disclose everything you know about it in particular detail. Then your analysis has to support your decision.

Is the building shape a true full two story with level ceilings of an acceptable height? Or was it an attic to start with with less area and sloped ceilings and clow ceiling height?

Some factors to consider are the minimum property requirements of FHA and what comparable sales are available as a market to draw from. These considerations need to be analyzed for both scenarios.

One research clue might be paired sales between houses that sold with only 1/2 interior finish and houses that sold that were one story with an attic. Doing that paired sale-type analysis migh clarify your thinking.

The bottom line is that you have to make a supportable decision that you can readily defend.

The one thing you don't want to do is just "call it" an attic for convenience and fail to report what you know or support your opinion.
 

Mike Boyd

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
California
Check for health and safety issues in the upper level being brought back to an attic. Get a copy of the plans and specs. Are they just abandonning that upper level or are they going to make it part of the house as a single family home? I would want to see permits.
 
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