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Professional Home Appraisals

Editor’s Note: Appraiser Mike Brunson explains how serving clients best often means giving them what they need, not always what they want.

Growing Business: Giving Clients What They Need
By Mike Brunson

In this period of economic and social change, clients are looking for professional appraisers to answer questions that until now have not been asked. Price and timing are the hot-button issues. While many appraisers are raging against the downward pressure on fees and the increased pressure for faster turn times, I have instead begun to offer my clients an alternative service. Here’s how.

I have several clients who order valuations for internal asset management. The client typically holds paper on a non-performing loan and needs to determine the best course of action. While bidding a recent land assignment, the client noted that my bids were coming back much higher than they expected. The client wanted to know why this assignment warranted a fee that was so much higher than what they desired/expected to pay.

As we discussed the complexity of the assignment and some potential reductions in scope of work, they said, “We don’t really care how much this thing is worth specifically, we just need to know if it is worth more than $x.” It turned out that the client was in second position behind a sizeable first. They suspected that there was little or no equity in the asset but needed an appraisal in the file. The client was requesting bids for a “full appraisal” because that is what they were accustomed to ordering. However, they had no need for the detailed analysis of a traditional “complete” appraisal that provides a specific value reported in summary format.

Here was an opportunity to serve a good client by giving them what they need instead of what they asked for. At the same time, it provided an opportunity to expand my options with this client regarding the services that I can provide as a professional appraiser. I explained that by definition, an appraisal can be expressed as a “specific amount, as a range of numbers, or as a relationship (e.g., not more than, not less than) to a previous value opinion or numerical benchmark (e.g., assessed value, collateral value).” In this case, the amount of the first trust deed would serve as the benchmark. We also discussed the question they were asking: “Is the property worth more or less than $x?” The client agreed that the majority of a traditional appraisal was extraneous to the question. I also explained that despite the negative connotation of the term “restricted,” in this case, a restricted-use appraisal report is acceptable for the intended use and intended user of this assignment. Honestly, my client was hesitant because, like most clients and many appraisers, they are not familiar with the concept of a limited scope, restricted-use assignment.

I spent some additional time and eventually went in to their office to discuss this and future assignments with a similar intended use. Ultimately the client agreed that a restricted-use appraisal report with a limited scope of work is appropriate for their needs. The next day, I delivered a two-page narrative appraisal (plus a certification page and a few client specific documents) using the amount of the first trust deed as a benchmark for the valuation. After completing my research and analysis, I concluded that the subject market value was less than the defined benchmark. I wrote the narrative report from scratch in less than 30 minutes. Not including the time I spent visiting the client (which I consider marketing) I completed the assignment in about 2.5 hours. The $250 fee for this appraisal is well within the client’s expected range.

Re-printed from www.workingre.com online – serving real estate professionals for over 10 years.

Quick and Easy Decorating Ideas for Home Staging

We all wish we could give our homes an overhaul and completely stage our homes when selling, but most of us either can’t afford it or don’t want to deal with the hassles. Fortunately, there are small changes we can all do that make a big difference. Best of all, these decorating ideas for home staging can be done for very little money.

Hardware

Hardware is like jewelry. Whether it’s on cabinets, furniture or large doors, hardware can have a big impact. Changing an outdated knob to something more decorative can instantly change the look of the room. While you’re at it, install new light switch plates for a similar effect.

Lampshades

People tend to give a lot of thought to the lamps they put in their rooms, but not to the shades. Just because a particular shades comes with a lamp it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best one. To give your room a quick update, change the shape or color of your lampshades.

Paint

Nothing says “easy update” like paint. Paint an entire room, an accent wall, kitchen and bathroom cabinets or a piece of furniture. Paint has the power to instantly transform items. Best of all, it’s inexpensive and easy to do. Using white-painted furniture is a tried and true tactic for freshening a room, but don’t forget its opposite. A coat of satiny black paint can revive tired furnishings and lend a chic, dramatic flair to just about any space. Painting an old piece black immediately updates it.

Reupholster

Reupholstering a sofa or large chair can be costly, but recovering chair seats can be done on a budget. Try recovering your dining room chair seats. A bold pattern or color can make a great focal point. You can also purchase affordable slipcovers for the sofa and loveseat at surefit.com.

New Bedding in the Master Bedroom

If you feel like you’re not a designer and you’re not good at pulling together a room, just go to a great bedding store, buy bedding and from the bedding, pull out a paint color and get matching window treatments. It will instantly look like a high-end hotel suite, and it’s a no brainer.

Window Treatments

Lighten up heavy, dated curtains with simple curtain panels that reach the floor and new, sleek curtain rods. Choose curtain rods no bigger than one inch in diameter. The goal is to showcase the curtains, not the rod. The Allen + Roth Sienna rod ($45 at Lowe’s) has the right dimensions, an antiqued finish and cute brackets. If windows are narrow, extend curtain rods a foot or so on each side to suggest width. If your ceilings are low, hang rods at the ceiling line and consider window treatments with vertical stripes to create the illusion of height. Add texture to the space by adding woven wood blinds. Target carries faux wood blinds for under $30 and you can install them yourself (yes you can!). Big bang for your buck. What do you do when the windows look bare but you can’t stand blocking out that gorgeous light? Beautiful sheers do the trick every time. Sheer genius.

Rearrange Furniture

The easiest and cheapest way to update a room — any room — is to rearrange the furniture. Sometimes it’s all you need to give your space a completely updated look that buyers will love. When it comes to easy decorating ideas for home staging it can’t be beat. It’s easy, fun and completely free.

DIY home staging can be fun and rewarding, especially when you get your house sold faster than your competition, but be sure to consult with a professional home stager if you are not absolutely sure that your home looks ready to sell.

Feng Shui Staging Tips
Make Your Front Door Welcoming

Energy enters your home at the front door, so invite it in! Make your door stand out by painting it a color that contrasts with your home, adding a new welcome mat and flanking the door with yellow flowers. Choose plants with rounded leaves as sharp leaves can appear aggressive to buyers.

Create a “Room of First Impression”

Buyers generally decide whether they will buy a home in the first 15 seconds they spend there, so you want them to see the best room first. Create a clear path to this room with a runner rug or with eye-catching art and accessories.

Don’t Let Energy Go Down the Drain

If the first thing buyers see when they enter your home is a bathroom, keep the bathroom door closed. Toilets and drains take energy from a room, so keep the toilet lid down and cover drains while not in use.

Rearrange Furniture to Improve Chi

A furniture arrangement can make or break the flow of energy in the room. If the back of a sofa faces the room’s entrance, energy bounces right out. Facing a comfortable sofa toward the entrance of the room will improve energy flow and make buyers feel welcome.

Provide Support

Large furniture such as beds and sofas need a solid wall of support behind them, so don’t place these pieces in front of a window.

Invigorate the Senses

Stimulate your home’s energy with sound be adding wind chimes to the front right corner of your house. This is the buyer’s area of the home, so this accessory might call in your home’s future owner.

Ann Alderson is a Professional Home Stager and Home Selling Strategist in the Tampa Bay area. Join her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/stagingsouthtampa and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/annalderson