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LETTERS: Letter from certified general appraiser

To the editor:

I had to comment on the letter to the editor about assessments.

As a certified general appraiser who works in fee appraisal, it makes me cringe to think what life would be like as a county assessor. I have completed more than 400 hours of intense real estate appraisal classes and worked 3,000 hours as an appraiser just to get my license. A bachelor’s degree also was required for the certified general license.

Still I know even with all my education and experience, if I were an assessor, I would have to encounter people who would argue about their assessed value regardless if they had market information or appraisal knowledge. The assessor knows that people only argue with them if “the value is too high” which for me would make it difficult to take any appeal seriously.

The dissatisfied homeowner who wanted to appeal the assessment because their home was possibly built in 1885 and not 1937, needs to be aware of a few factors.

First, the effective age of the home is more important. There are not too many 1885 or 1937 homes out there that have not received upgrades since they were built.

Regardless of whether it was built in 1885 or 1937, it is the remaining economic life that contributes to value. The remaining economic life of a building increases when upgrades or capital improvements are made.

Most  importantly, if the home contributes to the value of the property, there usually will be a bottom of the market price which people will see.

For instance, “starter homes” are properties that, for obvious reasons, are priced at the low end of the real estate price range. You may have a property built in 1937 which could possibly be comparable in size and condition but priced similarly to the 1885 home. This might be possible because there is an entry-level price to buy a home.

There are many other factors that have to be considered such as location, land size, views, water quality, and detached structures. A property could be appraised at the same price per square foot as another but be very different as one property may be superior in some regards but inferior in other ways.

My advice to anyone who wishes to appeal their assessment is to do your homework, take some appraisal classes, and research your market area.

Have tangible evidence to support your opinion. Your best option is to get an appraisal completed by a certified real estate appraiser.

Brett Schermerhorn
Allen & Brooks Real Estate Advisory Service
South Burlington, Vt.

Last modified Sept. 24, 2009

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