Real Property Appraisals/"comps."


Dear Mr. Carlson, I live in the most unique house in a town of 3,500 population in southern Oklahoma! It is a 1935 WPA two room black elementary school, 3200 sq. ft., 3 bd., 3 bath,, 12" thick rock walls, 2 acres, 100 yds to any neighbors, the house is in the city limits proper but the backyard is outside the city limits. I have fire and police protection on the house, but can raise the goats and chickens in the back yard. Everything is in good shape. The "comps" for this size house in our little town run about 80,000. There really is no com for this historic structure !!!  We feel that it is worth about 140,000. We bought it in 2000 after  being reduced in price for several years to 74,000. Apparently house values have not rebounded much in this little town. When we move we will have to buy significantly MUCH less of a home. Any thoughts about historical homes would be much appreciated !!  Thanks,  Steve Wilburn

Mr. Wilburn,

I specialize in the valuation of historic, architectural & luxury homes. You can visit my Website @ where I have photos and short Bios of the recent architectural/ historic homes I have appraised.

I can recommend two books for you to conduct research about the valuation process for properties like this:

1. "Historic Properties: Preservation and the Valuation Process" Third Edition, by Judith Reynolds, MAI

2. "Appraising the Tough Ones: Creative Ways to Value Complex Residential Properties" by Frank E. Harrison MAI,SRA

Both of these books can be purchased on the Appraisal Institute Website.

You appear to live in such a sparsely populated area that finding true "comparables" will be next to impossible. One of the methods the book: "Appraising the Tough Ones" teaches is find anything unusual to try to make a comparison.

You mention the word "Historic". What else besides the fact that it is a "1935 WPA" makes it historic. You can read my paper on "Provenance" which is in the Architectural/Historic section of my Website. Provenance when related to real estate describes the pedigree of the house. Many things go into Provenance: why the house was built, who was the architect, who was the first owner and if the first owner had it built, what was the story behind why it was built when and where it was.

The issue is if it was built by a well-known architect, or a well-known person in your area was associated with the property, this could add "value".

I would start with locating the local historic societies or chapters in the surrounding area - visit them all and interview everyone you can. Next, visit all of the city halls in the area. Hopefully, they have a separate "historical homes" section. If not, you want to find the person who can provide a list of historic/architectural properties in the major area around your house.

Then, visit local colleges or universities and talk to the Professor in the architecture departments. They also may maintain a list of architectural/historic properties. When you get a list of properties from these sources, go to a Title Company and give them the list. Have them look up the properties to see if any of them have sold. If you have a long list, expect to pay a fee to the Title Company.

Finally, call every real estate office in your surrounding area and try to locate the Agent who specializes in architectural/historic homes. When you find one, take some coffee & doughnuts to their office, sit down with them and have them search the MLS for these properties. You probably should offer to pay them for their time. If you locate any, have them print out what are called "agent copies" of the listings. At this point, you would like to find several active, pending or sold listings, but don't overlook listings that have expired or cancelled either.

When you have amassed all of the data, get in your car and drive to all of the properties you have found. Visually compare them to your property. Again, your property is so unique, you probably won't find anything closely similar, you just want some other unique property with which to draw some type of comparison.

You didn't say whether you were planning to sell or refi. Unfortunately, you will face serious issues with getting the property to appraise correctly. It is embarrassing, but my peers are not doing a competent job. On this site, please search: "Bad Appraisal", "Bad Appraiser" or "Incompetent Appraiser/Appraisal" to read my responses to people who have had bad appraisals.

I think the above will get you on your way to finding out how much your property is worth. Good luck and have fun researching your property

John C. Carlson
CA Certified General Real Estate Appraiser
Victorville and Diamond Bar, CA  

Real Property Appraisals

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John C. Carlson


Any questions regarding commercial and/or residential appraising, appraisals or real estate valuation such as: appraising as a profession, valuation techniques, comparable sales selection & analysis, the new HVCC and how it affects appraisers & Borrowers. Also, questions like: "Why did my appraisal come in low & what can I do about it?" I cannot answer questions about comparable data in areas in which I do not practice. I have expertise in most areas of So. California.


31-years both commercial and residential valuation experience. State of CA Certified General Real Estate Appraiser, licensed to appraise all property types. FHA Approved. Specialized expertise with historic, architectural & luxury residential property valuation. Experienced in industrial building and small commercial property valuation. Experienced Reviewer of appraisal reports and expertise with intensive forensic reviews to uncover fraudulent appraisal reports. Expert Litigation and Expert Witness experience.

Associate Member of the Appraisal Institute. Associate Member of the Certified Fraud Examiners.

Numerous posts to Blogs. Please "Google" "John C. Carlson Real Estate Appraisals" where a list of responses I have made will show up.

Numerous classes by the Appraisal Institute since 1978 in the practice areas in which I specialize

Past/Present Clients
First Republic Bank Wells Fargo Bank California Bank & Trust Preferred Bank Numerous Attorneys.

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