Lake Lanier Blog

Posted by Mary Thompson on June 28th, 2022 8:22 AMView Comments (2)

Subscribe to this blog
With all the alternatives to selling Real Estate, Companies like Open Door, Offer Pad,, etc. have entered our market. So what does this mean FOR the market and appraisals?
One could argue they are creating a NEW market. This is BAD news for other sellers because we all know that they purchase homes at below market values to make a profit on resale. But what if they infiltrate our market and Appraisers have no other sales to use when they are appraising other properties? This could be a problem. Hopefully when they resell the home they do so quickly and at market value and not still under market because they made such a great buy. They typically freshen up the homes with new paint, carpet, maybe appliances, if needed, but not always.
You can relate to this back when we had more foreclosures than true arms length sales after the market crashed. When that happened, foreclosures dominated the market and Appraisers did use these as comparable sales because that was the reality of the current market at that time.
So what is an Appraiser to do? What is a Realtor to do? Make sure that the Appraiser does not miss the fact that there was a sale in your listing's neighborhood which sold via Open Door or Offer Pad and go further to show proof it was indeed a below market sale, compared to other sales in the area. Appraisers should not be using below market sales when there are other sales that prove current market value is higher.
Appraisers should catch the fact that a sale involved Offer Pad or Open Door, because we are supposed to review both the current and prior sales in the past year for the comparables and the 3 year history of any sales for the Subject. The name of the owner should be apparent in courthouse records, but as a Realtor or Seller you need to point this out to the Appraiser whenever possible.
I wanted to make sure I was speaking from experience on these below market sales, so I actually had Offer Pad and Open door provide me with an offer on our home. Open Door was 10% below conservative value of our home. Offer Pad was a whopping 30% below! I filled out their forms and sent photos of my home. I sent fewer photos to Offer Pad, but that should not have made that much of a difference.
We also have local Realtors like Mark Spain who by his own commercial says..."Bypass the market and sell your home to him" Not a good idea to bypass the market, when that is the VERY thing Appraiser's are trying to analyze to determine market value for lenders, sellers and buyers!
Sellers who use these companies may be impacting the market for their neighbors. I know they may not care, but they should be informed.
Both of these companies charged MORE service fees than Realtors do with their commissions. Plus they hit you with repair items that could get costly. Your NET may be far less than you think as a seller. I get it, some people under certain circumstances need to sell now or don't want to go through the showing process and negotiations, etc. Other than that, why people use these companies is beyond me.
Bottom line is: Appraisers SHOULD steer clear of these below market sales in a flourishing market like we have now. They should have other sales that they can use, which are truly market value sales. If they have no option but to use a sale such as this, they need to make appropriate market based adjustments for this below market sale. If they can prove for example that it is 10% below market, then they can make that upward adjustment for that sale. But until these types of sales dominate our market, then there should not be a huge issue here.
REALTORS: You need to work hard to prove why sellers should NOT use these companies. They need your expertise and local knowledge and the protection that you provide to the Sellers and Buyers out there. Otherwise these companies will continue to increase in numbers and run you out of business!
Zillow, Redfin.....the list goes on and on....
Good luck out there and find the things in your business that set you apartand you should be successful. Be a specialist for your Sellers & Buyers.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to SHARE!

Realtors have more control over how the
 Appraisal goes than they may think. If you
follow these Top 10 "Rules of Engagement"
with Appraisers you will be doing your Sellers
 a huge favor. Time upfront can reduce the
time you may spend on the back end trying
to deal with an appraisal that comes in under
the sales contract. Remember you are trying
to get the HIGHEST  possible price for your
 listing so this takes some work.
Your sellers will love you for it!

* Pretend you are selling this home to the
Appraiser  AND pretend it is YOUR home.
Some of the best Listings I have seen are
Owner/Agent Listings.

1. PHOTOS....Good Quality and many of them
please! Include the views from the rear of the
home especially when dealing with 
Golf Course or Acreage
 homes, etc. The photos do not have to be
professionally taken, but they need to be of
 high quality so when you click on them you
 can see all the details. I see way too many
small resolution photos that do not open up
 to larger, clear ones when you click on them. 

** Use all the space you can under EACH photo as descriptors.
Appraisers read these every day. The more you add the better, ie;
 Comments under the Kitchen photo could read:
 " Renovated kitchen in 2012, new granite counters,
new GE Profile Stainless Appliances, New Tumble stone
 backsplash, New upgraded lighting. Owner put over
 $30,000 into new kitchen upgrades "
 The more details
the better as they will provide valid support for a
higher value in the appraisal
. Cost of all upgrades
is not required but DOES help!

2. Provide packet of information in the home with
 "Appraiser Information" written on the outside of the envelope.
 Many times Appraisers will not call ahead, so have this
packet readily available in the home. If they do call, 
tell them the packet is there which includes
information on how you determined an appropriate
Listing Price and if a pre-listing appraisal was done,
tell them you have included a copy in the packet.

** Make sure to add comments on each FMLS/MLS
sheet stating how they DIFFER from the Subject.
 Very helpful especially if you have been inside
 those other homes since Appraisers do not see
the inside of the Comparable sales, only the Subject.

3. DO provide appraiser with insider information you may have about the home or the neighborhood that they may not have: Include
 a cover letter to the Appraiser which would include things like why the current owner purchased this home and why the current BUYER is purchasing this home. What are the perceived value added amenities of this home for a buyer. If you know of positive things that are happening in the area or neighborhood, include these. This can be very helpful and so worth your time to provide to the Appraiser.

4. Do include a BRAG Sheet with costs of renovations, additions, updates and the year/s completed. This is Very important for getting the most out of an Appraisal. 

5. Call Appraisers Back right away! You do NOT want them guessing on something important and you do not want the Appraisal delayed waiting for your call back. Appraisers typically call the day or day before the report is due as that is when they are working on it, so please call them back as soon as possible, whether it is your listing or not. Remember one day they will be calling a Fellow Realtor on one that impacts your deal. 
6. Do NOT price your listings over anything else that has sold in that neighborhood unless you can provide details and reasons why! Lenders have real issues with appraised values over anything else that has sold in that neighborhood, so be prepared to support your actions on your listing price along with other sales that will prove this home is worth being priced over all the others.  
7. When you select Comparable Properties make sure you Bracket your Comps...Provide sales and listings that have sold BELOW and ABOVE your sale. This is how Appraisers must chose comps, so please follow the same process and again note on each listing sheet why they are inferior or superior to your Listing.
** Remember one CRUCIAL thing when it comes to Comp Selection:  Choose only those sales that a Buyerwould consider as a good replacement for the subject at the same or similar price if the Subject was no longer available. Don't rely solely on SALES PRICE or Price per Square foot for your Comp selection. Appraisers do not do this so you should not do this. Do not go into a superior development with superior homes to justify your listing price or it could backfire on you....Adjustments for location, square footage, quality and condition will be made and this sale could actually reduce the value for your Subject property. **Update per Bill Cobb's comment: Do not forget SELLER Paid Closing Costs/Concessions. If a seller pays well more than the typical closing costs, you MUST adjust downward against that sale as Appraisers will do this. This is Required by Fannie Mae to adjust that sale in the amount that it has effectively increased the Cost of that Home over what the typical market price should have been. 
8. Consider using 2nd Gen Square Footage Datasource which comes from actual Appraiser measurements of the homes. This data will help you to accurately determine how much larger or smaller the homes are...the same way an Appraiser would. GLA (that area above ground or grade is what appraisers count) Basement level finished space is considered separately and shown on this website along with other physical data about each home which has been measured. 

Cost is very reasonable at .10 cents per address and can be printed off for your files.
Do  not say things to Appraisers like: "You should have no problem appraising this home at the Sales price"... or... "We need a GOOD appraisal on this one". Remember one thing...Appraiser's objective is to protect the bank and not to make the deal work. 
All you will do it place doubt in the Appraiser's mind if you make comments like this and trust me I have heard them many times! Just give them the packet of information already discussed and this will go a LONG way to getting the best possible value that the market will support for your Listing.
10. Do tell Appraisers if you had multiple offers and the details of those as this will provide them with good information about the value and demand for this property.
Thanks for reading my newsletter. If you know of anyone who would be interested in having this sent to them on a monthly basis there is a link below to forward this to them. 
About Us
Lanier Appraisal Service
Flowery Branch, Georgia 30542

So you have a home with an addition. Was it Permitted by the County? 


How will the lack of a building permit affect the Appraisal and  The Home's Value? 


You will be happy to know that they are NOT required by HUD or for Conventional Loans....However.....there is a caveat. 


When the Appraiser inspects the home, if the addition or finished basement or enclosed Garage, etc. has not been completed in a Workmanlike, Professional Manner this condition WILL be noted in the report. Then it is up to the Underwriter to determine if further inspections or investigations into the addition or finish work is required OR if they will decline the Loan all together. 


So what does Workmanlike mean to an Appraiser? It means the addition must blend or flow well with the remainder of the home and it must not look "thrown together" or finished off in an inferior way, with inferior materials or with an inferior foundation, etc. As a Realtor, you KNOW what I am talking about. If you think the addition or finish work is marginal or sub-standard, so will the Appraiser. 


One IMPORTANT thing to note, MOST Appraisers will NOT inquire about Permits for Finished Basements or Bonus Rooms over Garages. It is quite common for Homeowners to Finish these areas without getting a Building Permit, even though many Counties require one whenever Plumbing or Electrical work is involved. Some Counties require permits for Decks and Fences and again, most appraisers will not even ask if a Permit has been pulled for this type of addition. Some will not ask  about permits for enclosed Garages, it depends upon how it was finished off and how it compares in quality and condition to the rest of the home. 


The work should conform to building codes and standards in place at the time of the addition or finish work. Since Appraisers are not building inspectors and do not have the building codes handy they will typically include a disclaimer in the appraisal report stating there was an addition, it has been completed in a workmanlike, professional manner and it is assumed that the work conforms to all current building codes and standards at the time of the addition. Then we will supply plenty of photos for the Lender to Review. 


The Key is how do these additions or finished space CONTRIBUTE to value?  The Appraiser will review sales of homes with similar additions and total square footage to determine how much added value there is and make adjustments accordingly. It most likely will not get same value per square footage as the remainder of the home. 

Basements as many of you know are valued lower per square footage as dictated by the market. Enclosed Garages in most cases command less per square footage in the market. HOW much Less? That depends on the area, the price range, the quality of the enclosed space, etc. 

If the addition or finish work in basements or enclosed Garages is sub standard, little to NO value will be given. In the Case of  FHA Loans, the Lender may require the Appraiser give NO value to the finished space and they May also decline lending on that property. It is their call to make. We just report what we see and provide photos to help them make their decisions on the Loan.


If you have any questions about Building Permits and additions, contact me and we can help. 





About Us
Lanier Appraisal Service
Flowery Branch, Georgia 30542
Visit Our Website

Posted in:General
Posted by Mary Thompson on March 22nd, 2015 9:52 AMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog


Even with everything the Internet has to offer by allowing You to "LOOK" at thousands of homes online...Do yourself a FAVOR and Hire A Realtor!


As the saying goes...."KEEP CALM & LET A REALTOR HANDLE IT"  WHY?  I'll give you 10 reasons why.....


 1. You need someone to run interference when it comes time for the Appraiser to Appraise your home. Your Realtor can provide the Appraiser with the Comparable sales they used in order determined a proper listing price. This can be invaluable especially if the appraiser is not familiar with your neighborhood.


2. Your Listing Realtor is worth their Commission and weight in Gold during the most crucial time.....Contract to Closing. Many deals fall apart during this time and your Realtor is the one who has to run interference with the Loan Officer, Inspector, Appraiser, Buyer's Realtor, Closing Attorney, etc. There are so many things that they handle behind the scenes that you are not aware of  in order to make sure that everyone gets to that CLOSING TABLE!


3. Your Buyer's Realtor is also worth their Salt as they make sure that you are not overpaying for a home, by telling you if  the listing price seems high. They are the ones who have to negotiate an offer with the Listing Realtor, who then presents to the Seller.  Realtors who have good negotiation skills can make or break a deal on your next dream home.


4. Your Realtor is a WEALTH of information on service providers. They can provide you with names of  contractors from painters, roofers, inspectors, appraisers, landscapers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC Installers, Septic Repairman, Termite Inspectors, etc.  Just think if you had to figure out which ones were the best and would not SCAM you! Your Realtor already knows which ones are the best for your needs as they have first hand experience with all of them.


5. Realtors make sure that as a Seller you are not doing anything that could land you in Jail, such as proper disclosure issues, complying with any State Regulations as a Seller, etc.  


6. As a Buyer your access to Listed Homes is thru a Realtor. You cannot gain access any other way. Without Realtors you limit your buying experience to FOR Sale By Owners and they are not obligated to use Sales Contracts and Disclosure Forms that are there to protect you as a Buyer. This is critical!


7. Realtors act as buffers between buyers and sellers. Most people find it difficult to negotiate deals face to face when it comes to buying and selling a home. You may do yourself a disservice by not having a Realtor negotiate for you.  


8. Your Realtor can be invaluable when you are working deals from out of State. They know the area in which you want to buy and You do not. They can help you find just what you are looking for without worry of the unknown such as Neighborhoods, Schools, Shopping, Places of Worship, etc.


9. Realtors keep your information Confidential.  They are looking out for your best interests at all times and are focused on finding exactly what you are looking for in a home.


10. Realtor Networking, Advertising and Marketing far exceeds anything a For Sale By Owner can reach in the way of potential buyers.


Finally....Realtors are there for you AFTER the sale. Many times questions come up after you are in your new home and your Realtor is there to help you or hook you up with someone who can help you.



About Us
Lanier Appraisal Service
Flowery Branch, Georgia 30542
Visit Our Website

Posted in:General
Posted by Mary Thompson on October 3rd, 2014 4:10 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog

Not only do they Sell Homes..
They can also impact Appraised Values!

Appraisers rely and count on the information in FMLS/MLS listings. As a Realtor you can help get the most out of your listing and the Appraisal by following the steps below. Feel free to Forward these newsletters. There is a link below to do so!

1. PHOTOS, PHOTOS, PHOTOS: Put as many photos in the listings as allowed. We need CLEAR and LARGE File size photos (many times I see those small photos and even when you click on them they do not enlarge, so they are basically useless for our purposes) Photos should include any UPGRADES and RENOVATIONS to Kitchens & Baths, etc. If the home is on the Lake, get some good Lake View shots from the home and from the boat dock. I still see on occasion lake homes with NO photos of the lake. ** If the seasons change, take new photos as nothing makes it more obvious as to how long a home has been on the market if you have winter time shots in the summer (This is not only a benefit for your seller but if your listing has some awesome flowering trees, shrubs and a nicely landscaped spring and summer time yard, it helps to see that in the photos and can translate to more value). What I have seen that is a nice touch is photos of the house in all 4 seasons if the owner has them. 

2. In your public comments section, please include YEARS and types of renovations: ie; New Roof-2007, new HVAC-2006, Updated or renovated Kitchen and Baths-2011. Appraiser MUST have the years of renovations going back 15 years for these major items. The more detailed you are there is a better chance for an accurate appraised value. You will also be better off as you will get fewer calls from Appraisers asking for this data. If you want to upload a BRAG sheet in FMLS do so and make a note in the comments so they do not miss this. 

3. PLEASE include square footage when possible from the builder or owner or prior appraisal. The courthouse records are not always accurate as you know. I am noticing that Realtors are stating the source of square footage is "APPRAISAL" when it is actually the Courthouse data and many times it is inaccurate. Please only state Appraisal in this area if you have one in hand from an Appraiser as other Appraisers might take this to mean the square footage is from an actual Appraisal and wrongly put more weight on that number than they should. Realtors are also showing the total square footage from an actual appraisal by including the finished basement area. Please only include the GLA shown on the appraisal report, which is that area above grade. We need to be consistent between Realtors and Appraisers or this could negatively impact your Listings come sale time. If an appraiser is using data from another listing which has included the basement, against your listing/sale, this could drive the value of your listing downward. Not Good!

Please Do not quote The Total Gross Living area you see in Courthouse records as that typically includes not only finished basement space but GARAGE space as well. There is another square footage number which is the lower number below the TOTAL gross area and that is the most accurate of the numbers provided from courthouse data. 

** You would be better off not quoting any square footage if you do not have something like a Builders Floor plan, builder square footage quote or prior appraisal **

In your Public or private comments you can add the additional square footage in the basement if you wish for selling purposes. But please keep it separate in the Square footage section. 

4. If you have LOT dimensions please include them in the listing or upload a copy of the plat. Not only does this help the appraiser but it helps potential buyers. Most courthouse records have a plat with dimensions, but not always. 

5. Just a note on commentary in your listings. If you are going to say Won't last long....and then the home is on the market over 3-4 months, please change your wording. Many times I have seen a listing that says "priced to sell or won't last long" Then I look at days on market and in many cases, the days were longer than most of the others in that market. 

6. I would also suggest not stating the home is priced under appraisal. (I would keep the fact that an appraisal was done to yourself until you need it). The first thing someone will ask themselves is why is it priced under appraisal and when was that appraisal completed? Use that appraisal as your trump card. If someone asks how you came up with your listing price you can then say we have a recent appraisal on hand.
Please click on the link above: Advantages of having a Pre-Listing Appraisal. 

7. I have seen many new construction listings which state "Stock Photos" and that is good! Appraisers need to know that is not the actual home they are looking at in FMLS. If you can provide a FINAL finished product photo of the actual home, that would be beneficial because appraisers will be looking at that sale as a comparable for at least a few months after the sale. 

That wraps it up for this month. Appraisers appreciate full, complete and detailed listings in FMLS as they rely on them every single day. Thank you for whatever you can do to help not only your sellers but your local appraiser. Listings CAN and do make a difference in Appraised Values. 

*List every home as if it were your own. Some of the BEST listings I have seen were Owner/Agent Listings*


Mary T. Thompson
Certified Residential Appraiser
About Us
Lanier Appraisal Service
Flowery Branch, Georgia 30542
Visit Our Website

Lanier Appraisal Service | 5747 GARDEN WALK | Flowery Branch | GA | 30542

Posted in:General
Posted by Mary Thompson on April 29th, 2014 4:46 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog

You get the listing and now it is under contract and the buyer is going with an FHA loan.....You wonder will the home qualify for FHA financing?

1. First things first: When you take that listing and there is any chance it might go FHA, take this check list along with you to make sure you are covered. Thank you to the inspector on the list who put this together. SOME of these items are NO longer required by FHA, but if the home passes the "Muster" on this check list you will have NO surprises come appraisal time!

2. Below is a revised outline of requirements from FHA. You can see that HUD has relaxed many of their requirements. 

The main things to consider when you look at the property are the 3 S's

Required repairs are limited to those necessary to preserve the continued marketability of the property and to protect the health and safety of the occupants

  • Safety: protect the health and safety of the occupants
  • Security: protect the security of the property (security for the FHA insured mortgage-not security of the home)
  • Soundness: correct physical deficiencies or conditions affecting structural integrity
This all boils down to SALABILITY of the home. If you are looking at a home and certain items stand out to YOU, there is a good chance they will to the Appraiser and may be Conditioned by the Appraiser for further investigation or inspection. The Loan Underwriter will have final call on these items that are conditioned by the Appraiser. 

This essentially covers FHA Appraisal requirements. Of course for ALL Loans not just FHA, ALL utilities must be on INTO The home prior to the Appraiser inspecting the property or it will be conditioned in the appraisal report. 




Posted in:General
Posted by Mary Thompson on April 1st, 2014 3:45 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog



Dear Home Seller:

Thank you for your time in reading this important letter. I promise it will be worth it! As you know, those who are PREPARED are far better off and usually avoid unpleasant surprises that can cost them thousands of dollars.

As a Seller it is so important in this market to make sure that you are not under pricing or over-pricing your property. It can mean the difference between leaving thousands on the table, never selling your home or delaying significantly the time it takes to sell your home. You may say my Realtor can provide me with that information for FREE! Why do I need to pay for an Appraisal Report?

A Real Estate Appraiser can provide you with invaluable information about what ALL Appraisers look for in a Home and what drives and determines value. Appraisers specialize in Valuation of property. Realtors specialize in Marketing your home and negotiating the best possible price for you as a Seller.

Appraisers have NO vested interest in your Home, so their professional opinion of its value is independent and unbiased which is what you need and want!

So Why get an appraisal IF you feel that your Home is priced Right? Below are 4 perfect Reasons and they will EACH be well worth the cost of the report. It will be one of the best investments YOU can make to "Prepare your Home for Sale", much the same as spending money to paint your home, install new carpet & appliances (if needed) in order to ensure the highest possible sales price.

1. You get a current opinion of value for your home along with a detailed sketch so that you & your Realtor know exactly what your heated square footage is since Courthouse records are often inaccurate. Square footage has a direct impact on Appraised Value. How great would it be for a perspective buyer to see your home layout along with ACCURATE Square footage included in the Online Listing. Realtors typically quote Courthouse Record square footage and the records are wrong most of the time.

2. You will be able to provide the Pre-Listing Report & Sketch to the Bank's Appraiser for your buyer. Trust me, that appraiser will be VERY happy to have a recent report and sketch to refer to as it will save them time. It will go a long way to ensure that Appraiser's value is similar to the one that is provided to you in the Pre-Listing Report. If you have a cash buyer, the report will help them feel secure knowing the home is worth what you have agreed upon. Please note: The Appraisal report is 100% confidential, no one gets a copy of the report other than you, unless you give the Appraiser permission to release a copy.

3. You can use the Report as a negotiation tool or rebuttal in case the Banks Appraiser is coming in below your contract price. This can make or break your deal! Consider this report an "insurance policy" or "ammunition" for these situations.

4. If a buyer comes along and is willing to pay what you are asking, your home STILL has to appraise for at least the contract price. The Pre-Listing report will give you the peace of mind knowing that there will be no surprises come appraisal time!



Posted in:General
Posted by Mary Thompson on March 29th, 2014 9:14 AMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog

In order to give back to the Community and to the Realtors who have referred business our way over the years, we have started a Monthly Newsletter which will be informative on the Appraisal Process and any important Appraisal News that impacts the Appraisal Process.

These newsletters will hopefully help Realtors and their Clients get through some of the difficult times that may come with Appraisals.

Our first newsletter addressed how to Rebut an Appraisal that comes in below the Sales Price, (assuming of course that the Appraisal is flawed).

The next newsletter will deal with FHA Appraisals.

So if you would like to be "In the Know" and want to be added to our monthly email newsletter list, contact us and include your email address. Tell your friends and co-workers too.  WE WILL NOT Abuse your inbox! We think you will find the newsletters to be very helpful.

Thanks for stopping by.

Lanier Appraisal Service
Mary Thompson-Certified Appraiser




Posted in:General
Posted by Mary Thompson on March 6th, 2014 2:46 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog


Our goal was met in February. 50% of our Appraisal Business was Personal Business, such as referrals from Realtors, Sellers and Buyers ordering appraisals directly from us..NON Lender Business in other words. Thank you to those Realtors, you know who you are, who have referred business to us for PRE-LISTING and Cash Buyer Appraisals. We appreciate your business very much!


Posted in:General
Posted by Mary Thompson on March 6th, 2014 2:31 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog


My Favorite Blogs:

Sites That Link to This Blog: