Here’s Appraisal 101 for a Monday

So you’re getting an appraisal? How much do you know about the subject? Here are a few basics to keep in mind.

First off, understand that appraisers are going to be looking very carefully at proximity. They’ll be lending a careful eye to the immediate surrounding area – as opposed to, say, a buyer seeking a one-bedroom condo in San Francisco. Often those buyers are prepared to go into a variety of different neighborhoods, since they’re not so much looking at neighborhood as they are at the quality of the unit provided that the neighborhood is desirable to them.

However, the appraiser is very interested in what you encounter once you step outside. One major factor that can bring an appraised value down is blight, which became a bigger issue during the bad times when foreclosures resulted in people abandoning their homes and leaving them unkempt.

Be wary of appraisers who are not from the local area. There’s a pool of appraisers that we’re required to use – they’re queued up and you have to take the next person from the queue. That means you can wind up with someone from Fresno who just doesn’t get that values can be very nuanced in San Francisco. For example, a particular street can be very busy, but you can’t know that unless you’re there at certain times of the day. If you don’t know that, you don’t realize a particular unit may be worth significantly less than other comparable properties.

There have been times I’ve consulted with local appraisers after getting an appraisal from an out-of-area person, and the local appraisers are often furious at how poorly the appraisals are done.

Proceed with caution!

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email

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