Archive for the Featured Category

How Good is Zillow?

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We like the Zillow site at Townsend Appraisals.  It has some good charts for seeing how the market is doing. It has a lot of houses listed and their prices both current and recent past. School districts are listed, taxes on sales, contacts with agents, lots of information. The Bird’s Eye view below shows a recent listing.

Zillow Values

Zillow Maps

One of the common uses of  Zillow is to provide an estimate of the value for your property.    Of course we are left with the question. How good is the estimate?

In a recent article in The Appraisal Journal, a monthly publication  by the Appraisal Institute, that question was explored.   The article, ” Zillow’s Estimates of Single-Family Housing Values” by  Danile R Hollas, PhD, Ronald C. Rutherford, PhD, and Thomas A Thomson, PhD explored the issue.   The article compared the actual sale values of 2045 single family properties sold in Arlington, Texas with the sale values.  It was done at a time when the market there was stable, and  where Zillow indicated it data has the highest accuracy rating. So how did Zillow do?

Zillow generally overestimated the values.  In over 40% of the  properties, the over estimate exceeded 10% of the value and only .88% of the property values were underestimated by 10% or more.    We think this is good to know.  We wonder how many homeowners have already checked out Zillow’s estimate of value before we see their homes.   If they have, it looks like they may think we are appraising their properties too low.

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Featured in Appraisal Today

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Townsend Appraisals and Peter and Nancy Townsend were featured this month (September 2010) in Appraisal Today, the premier real estate appraisal periodical. The focus was on how the Townsends have adapted their business to the changing marketplace and evolving needs of the appraisal profession.

The article describes how the Townsends use division of labor, their commitment to being a green appraisal company, and some specific issues related to appraising as a family business. For instance, the article discusses the value of record keeping, the importance of vacation, and the need to save for retirement. There are a number of candid photos of the couple [see the full article and scroll to the bottom for photos], including some of the San Francisco area. The five page feature is a welcome recognition of this California appraisal company. Townsend appraisals covers Contra Costa County and Alameda County in California.

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What to Expect at Your Appraisal Appointment

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After we say hello, we measure the exterior of your home and draw a diagram of the exterior walls.  We photograph the front, rear and street scene of your home, and possibly other amenities such as a view, pool, decking, patio, landscaping, etc.

Once inside, we measure the garage (if it is attached) and indicate where rooms are located on the diagram we have drawn.  Typically, we do not measure interior walls.  We do take interior photographs, primarily of the the living room, kitchen, baths, and may take a photograph of every room in the house.

We note the following: flooring materials used throughout, tub/shower surround materials, any significant deferred maintenance (ceiling leaks, very old roofs, torn carpet, etc.)  We will ask you if there is anything you would like to tell us about your home.

A typical appointment takes between 15 – 45 minutes, depending on the complexity of your house.

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Appraisal Consulting in Northern California

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Appraisal Consulting in Contra Costa County, CA and Alameda County, CAAppraisal consulting is useful in a variety of situations. Before putting their home on the market, some clients wish to have an idea of what is a fair market value for their home. There are also clients who wish to know what they can do to maximize the value of their homes before selling them. We can tell you what makes a difference in property value so you can get the most “bang for your buck” when you are considering different improvements for your home. We can also estimate diminution in value for your property, if this should occur.  For example, if your neighbor’s tree grows and blocks your view, we can estimate the loss in value to your property.
Another situation in which clients seek appraisal consulting is in order to have an accurate record of their property’s square footage, as county records frequently do not accurately reflect the correct size and room count of a dwelling.

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Better Service Through Limited Areas!

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Contra Costa County FHA Appraiser - Alameda County California State Certified AppraiserHow we’re different: At Townsend Appraisals, we limit our market area to Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.  This enhances the quality of our appraisals and the level of trust that our clients experience.  We have 36+ years of combined appraisal experience.  Combined with commitment to be active in the appraisal community through speaking at Appraisal Institute conferences and other volunteer activities, we stay aware of the latest market trends, and have a network of skilled and competent professionals.

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