Homeowner to Appraiser: “My House Has 2 Bathrooms, Not 1!,” or, “The Case of the Missing Bathroom”

Did the Appraiser Goof?

A client trying to refinance his mortgage recently ran into a not-uncommon problem:  a low appraisal.

My client was convinced that the appraiser goofed because — amongst other things — the appraiser holmeslisted the home as only having one Bathroom, not two.

Unfortunately, the second Bathroom is in the basement.

Because appraisals typically disregard anything below grade — including very nice full Baths(!) — the appraisal was technically correct.

Disregarding Below Grade Space

Why disregard below grade square feet?  Because it varies so much.

At one extreme, walkout basements with high ceilings and lots of egress windows and high-end finishes (like recessed lighting and hardwood floors) practically feel like they’re above ground.

The discount for such a basement might be as small as 30%.

At the other extreme, a dark, dingy basement (the haunted, “Halloween” kind) could easily be discounted 75% or more.

To avoid apples-to-oranges comparisons (what appraisers and Realtors call “adjustments”), appraisals typically ignore below grade square feet.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.
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