When it comes to getting an accurate appraisal for a high-performance home, it’s easier and more practical to take the right steps up front than to try to get a low appraisal revised after the fact.
Appraisal expert Sandra Adromatis, a featured speaker at the High Performance Building Zone during the recent International Builders’ Show, offered advice for securing an accurate appraisal of a high-performance home.
First and most important is documentation, especially of features behind the walls and other items that aren’t immediately obvious.
A good place to start is by taking a close look at the Appraisal Institute’s Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. This is particularly important if the home is built to a nationally recognized program like the ICC-700 National Green Building Standard or includes additional high-performance features that should be documented within the appraisal.
Filling out the addendum and providing it to the appraiser will help ensure that the house’s important features are noted and valued appropriately. In a move that will further facilitate the process, the Home Innovation Research Labs, which certifies homes to the National Green Building Standard, recently announced that it will provide a copy of the addendum noting some pertinent features of the property with green certifications.
In broad terms, the addendum addresses insulation, the home’s envelope, water efficiency, windows, daylighting, appliances, the HVAC system and the home’s energy rating.
The form also allows appraisers to document indoor air quality measures, projected utility costs, the home’s HERS rating, solar capabilities, the walk score, access to public transportation, orientation on the site and landscaping.
Providing detailed information to the appraiser about any of these features will go a long way toward securing an accurate appraisal. Even more helpful will be any comparison you can provide between your product and building the same house to the prevailing local code, especially regarding energy use and costs.
To ensure an accurate appraisal, it’s equally important that the appraiser be experienced in evaluating green and energy-efficient homes. Again, the Appraisal Institute is a good place to start. If you navigate to the left side of its Find an Appraiser page, you can search for someone in your area who has passed the courses necessary to be listed on the institute’s professional development program registry for the valuation of sustainable residential buildings.
That’s good information to share with the lender, who will ultimately be responsible for hiring the appraiser.
Remember also to select a lender well-versed in high-performance construction. Also consider adding a contract clause to require the lender to hire an appraiser qualified to evaluate green homes.
Another option: Establish relationships with lenders who understand the value of green and are committed to ensuring appropriate appraisals on such properties.
The best place to start when looking for such a lender? Put the networking power of your HBA to work and ask other members for recommendations.
Find additional information on appropriate contract language or contact NAHB’s Kevin Morrow for assistance.