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Real Property Appraisals/Below grade finished sq ft



What data source do you as an appraiser use to populate the field in your residential appraisal reports labeled "Basement & Finished Rooms Below Grade"?

I noticed in my report that a couple comparables which do in fact have finished basements have been reported as 0sfin on the report. I know they have finished basements because I toured them. Websites such as redfin show pictures of the finished basement as well. Comparables with a bathroom in the finished portion of their basement tended to be reported accurately.

Thanks in advance for addressing


I use a combination of data sources to present the details about basements, or any other amenity for that matter. A brief list is: MLS listings, Real Estate Agents, Public Records, and City Building Departments. I also plug the property address into an Internet search, that is where sources such as Redfin or show up that will have additional information about a comparable I would like to use.

The problem we have with MLS listings is that the worst Agents will report: "finished basement"..... - that's it - no size, no comments about the type and scope of the finish. When you call them to try to confirm what is in the basement, they usually claim not to remember. That is also why I access multiple data sources.  

Unfortunately, coupled with the above, appraisers are not being paid enough to take the time to fully research the market data. They are not being allowed enough time for proper research either. Everything today is "cheap & fast". Get the report in quickly and you get additional appraisals from lenders. Accept "working at McDonalds" fees and you get more work from lenders.

[sarcasm on] Goodness James, appraisers can't take time to check a source like Redfin, that takes too much time and they have to finish the report [sarcasm off]

I am embarrassed about what is going on in my "industry", I no longer call it a profession.

With respect to your issue, I would look at two areas of your report. First, where is the appraiser located? If they are from miles away, I would question whether they had access to your local MLS. Second, what does the appraiser claim was their data source? If they note MLS as a source, and you really want to delve into this, you can take the appraisal to a real estate agent you know and ask them to pull up the listing.

If the listing clearly shows that the comparable you note had a basement, either the appraiser missed this in the listing, or the appraiser just stated that MLS was a data source to make the report look better.

Basically, the appraisal and appraiser today are commodities. Lenders want "cheap and fast" and unfortunately, my colleagues who work with lenders have to toe the line to survive.

Wish I had a more professional answer for you, but most likely the appraiser who completed your report just got it done quickly to please their client.

If this answer was helpful to you, please give me a good score!

John C. Carlson
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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