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community features

Property Appraisal Insights: 4 Community Features that Matter

Analyzing Community Features That Impact Property Value

When deciding what adds value to a home, today’s savvy property owner thinks beyond an impressive house amenities list.  It may surprise you to discover exactly what things add value to a home in today’s competitive housing market.  Community features and neighbourhood amenities are topping the modern buyer’s wish list. With increasing real estate prices, property owners are demanding more.

Does a neighbourhood have sidewalks, mature trees, hiking trails or a dog park? Beyond the conveniences of a house, these community features should also be considered when assessing a property’s value.

As one of Victoria’s longest-standing appraisal firms, D. Fritz Appraisals Inc. can provide detailed valuations highlighting the community amenities to look for when buying or selling a property. 

Read on to learn about which community features have the most significant impact on property values. 

What Makes A Location Desirable?

Homes in major cities where land is scarce tend to hold more value than homes in smaller towns with room to grow and develop. With that in mind, it’s also important to note that homes on larger pieces of property tend to increase more in value over time.

Let’s break down the five components of a desirable location.

  1. Community Features – Does the neighbourhood have grocery stores, a reputable school, restaurants or cafes? These are just a few essential amenities that will help boost a home’s value.
  2. Future Development And City Plans – Maybe at this very moment, the chosen community doesn’t have all of the desired amenities, but often, the future city plan includes improvements and more amenities down the road. Hospitals, civic infrastructure, and public transportation are just a few development types that could be in the works and should be considered when determining current and future property values.  At D. Fritz, we can help you research which properties have the most potential to increase in value over time.
  3. Position – Is the home on a busy road or near a loud commercial building? Is it exposed to transient traffic or popular community events? Homes in busy areas tend to be less expensive overall, and initially, their lower prices might be attractive. However, it’s wise to consider that the resale of homes in busier areas can be more difficult and lengthy. In contrast, homes purchased in quiet communities with mature trees and charming historic homes can often increase and maintain property value.
  4. Lot size – When deciding between two homes at similar price points, you need to consider where the value of a property comes from. For example, if a shiny new house on a small lot and a fixer-upper on a large lot are both on the market at a similar price, one should note that the land a house sits on will often hold the most value, making the home on the larger lot a better choice.
  5. Safety – Security measures foster trust and lower the risk of property damage. Gated communities with automatic gates or gates operated by security guards tend to have lower crime rates, which is attractive to potential buyers.

When considering what things add value to a home, we suggest including the following items on your checklist: Esthetics, Amenities, Plans For Expansion, Perceived Safety and Accessibility.

The Value Of Community Groups

Organized groups such as the Condominium Home Owner Association of BC can help maintain the character and appearance of buildings and neighbourhoods, adding value. Community groups are not just for condos. They exist in many areas, including single-family homes and townhouses. Some of the community features and benefits that an organized community group can offer include:

  • Neighbourhood watch
  • Clean-up programs
  • Amenities such as fitness centers and swimming pools
  • Maintenance, snow removal, and landscaping services
  • A platform for social events and activities
  • A mediator for disputes

While the limitations of a homeowner’s association may deter some buyers, a well-managed HOA can be an asset and help boost a home’s value.

How’s Your View?

It comes as no surprise that an unobstructed ocean view will increase property value. But did you know that even a low-quality ocean view can add significant returns to your investment? 

Lake, river, and mountain views are also in high demand. A nice view combined with community features such as water access, an impressive house amenities list or outdoor recreation opportunities become even more enticing to a future buyer.

Look for property information and trends at BC Assessment.

Parks And Playgrounds 

Neighbourhoods with clean, accessible green spaces for seniors, kids, families, and pet owners tend to be highly desirable, allowing all community members to safely access the outdoors. Parks impact communities in several positive ways:

Providing a Gathering Space

As more people spend money on their pets, homes near dog parks and walking trails have become a huge draw. In neighbourhoods with small or no yards, buyers will spend more to live near these community features. They provide the space for community members to congregate for everything from family picnics and birthday parties to school events. Want a space to play ultimate frisbee, stargaze, bird-watch and everything in between? Pick a neighbourhood with a park or playground.

Filter The Air

Mature trees do much more than filter the air. They supply oxygen, improve air quality, and provide shade and wildlife habitat. Well-landscaped, water-smart yards with defined outdoor spaces can boost curb appeal.

Encourage Movement

Walkability scores are now commonplace in real estate listings and are a new factor for evaluating properties. Homes in walkable neighbourhoods with desirable community amenities usually have higher property values. Walking just twenty minutes per day can positively impact health and quality of life by lowering stress, boosting moods and increasing creativity.

With outdoor spaces in high demand, we should consider them as thoroughly as a house amenities list when determining which property has the most value.

D. Fritz Appraisals Inc. – Take The Guessing Out Of Valuing Property

D. Fritz Appraisals Inc. is your home for professional real estate appraisals for properties in Victoria to Nanaimo and the Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

Let our team of expert appraisers, certified by the Appraisal Institute of Canada, guide you in highlighting the community features you’re looking for with a comprehensive, accurate valuation.

With outstanding service dating back forty years, D. Fritz Appraisals Inc. can meet all your appraisal needs. Contact us today for a quote.

home appraisal cost

8 Home Appraisal Cost Factors in BC: What You Need to Know

What Can Impact the Cost of a Home Appraisal

Whether you are buying, selling or looking to refinance your home, you will most likely need a home appraisal. 

While an appraisal fee is something you will need to add to your budget or closing costs, the good news is the cost of a home appraisal shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

A home appraisal is a key part of the financing portion of any new or refinanced mortgage or loan agreement. It is something most financial institutions will insist on before releasing funds.

It’s worth knowing that some factors can impact your final home appraisal costs. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, the house appraisal cost is generally determined by the complexity of the review and the length of time it takes to complete it. An appraisal fee is NOT determined by the declared value of the property being appraised.

Below, we’ll explore some of the factors that may cause your appraisal fee to be higher than average. Read on to find out why appraisals are important, who pays for them and how much you are likely to pay in British Columbia.

What is an Appraisal, and Who Pays for it?

A home appraisal is a legal document that determines fair market value for a property. The appraisal process includes an inspection of the property and research of comparable properties in the local area by a qualified professional.

Appraisals are not only important for the house-buying process, but they are also used for financial loans, property tax appeals and some legal processes.

During the home appraisal process, the appraiser reviews the structure of the property, including size, number of rooms, exterior amenities and the lot the property sits on, amongst other things. For more information on what a home appraisal inspection consists of and how value is determined, see our previous blog post – ‘Home Appraisals – What They Look For.’

Usually, the buyer will be responsible for the cost of home appraisal with the fee considered part of the closing costs. However, if the appraisal is for refinancing, the current owner will be required to pay. Occasionally, a seller will foot the bill if they are looking to incentivize the sale or demonstrate the potential for subdivision of the plot.

If you need to hire an appraiser, it is acceptable to get quotes from several appraisal companies, especially if you have a particularly large, unique or complex property. Look for a company like D. Fritz, with an experienced and qualified professional team of appraisers that is familiar with your community.

8 Home Appraisal Cost Factors

According to Nesto.ca, the average cost of a house appraisal in BC is usually in the region of $350 to $500 plus tax, though there are several reasons why your final fee may end up higher than that. Factors that can increase the final bill are generally related to the time and effort required to produce the appraisal report and include:

  1. Size of property – Generally, the more time an appraisal takes the higher the cost can be, so it stands to reason that a larger property may result in a higher fee than a smaller one. For example, a 6,000 sqft home with a large garden will take longer to review than a 1,000 sqft condominium.

Equally, a multi-family property will cost more to appraise than a standard single-family home.

  1. Complexity/detail of property – A home with intricate architecture or an unusual layout will take longer to appraise and will have fewer market comparables to refer to. Generally, any additional time spent assessing complex homes will lead to an increased fee.
  2. Location – Easily accessible homes in residential communities are likely to cost less to appraise than those that are hard to reach. It is harder to find comparable recent sales for homes in more remote areas, so additional research may be required to conclude the correct valuation. Additional travel expenses may also be added if the home is outside the appraiser’s usual area.
  3. Season – Luckily it doesn’t snow too often on Vancouver Island, but severe weather or heavy snow can increase the time it takes to perform an appraisal and therefore impact the cost. 
  4. Condition of the home – If the house has any structural issues, obvious signs of damage or disrepair or is extremely cluttered, it will take longer to perform the appraisal than it would in a well-kept property. 
  5. Unique features – Is the property on the waterfront with a dock attached? Does the land have subdivision potential or is the home designated a heritage property? Any ‘out of the ordinary’ homes may take longer to review and compare to ensure the final report is accurate potentially resulting in a higher fee.
  6. Additions and upgrades since previous appraisal – If significant additions, such as an extension, home lift or creation of a legal suite, have taken place since the property was last appraised, it will take longer to assess. This is because the appraiser has to inspect any upgrades thoroughly to determine their impact on the final valuation.
  7. Short notice requests – Sometimes appraisals are needed very quickly to accommodate an urgent purchase and avoid closing delays. Some appraisers may charge an additional fee for short notice or fast turnaround reports.

How to Minimize Additional Costs for Home Appraisals

There are some things you can do to help your appraiser complete a timely assessment and reduce the chances of additional fees. For example:

  • Plan ahead – but not too far. Plan early enough that you avoid rush fees and have time to shop around for your appraiser. But remember, an appraisal report is only considered to be accurate for about 3 months, so don’t do it too soon and risk having to get it re-done.
  • Be prepared – As the homeowner, you can help make the appraisal process faster by providing all relevant and required information about the property at the start of the assessment.

D. Fritz for Appraisals in Victoria, BC

If you need an appraisal for a home in southern or central Vancouver Island, look no further than D. Fritz Appraisals Inc. Our experienced, professional team has over 40 years of experience in delivering expert appraisals throughout the area.

Whether you need an appraisal for a home purchase, re-financing or settling an estate or division of assets, our team will be glad to help. Call us today, and we’ll be glad to give you a quote for our appraisal service.

property tax appeal

Need a Property Tax Appeal?

What to do When Your Property Tax Assessment Seems Too High

In early January each year, every home in British Columbia receives its property tax assessment notice through the mail from BC Assessment. Some property owners may be surprised and possibly even concerned with their home property assessment amount.

Between 2021 and 2022, house prices in BC rose by an average of 23.3% with the increase even steeper in Victoria.  With BC Assessments predicting that property assessments will rise between 5% and 15% for 2023, it’s no wonder homeowners are concerned about how these cumulative increases will affect their BC tax assessment.

The good news is, if you think your BC Property Tax assessment is too high, there is an appeals process that you can follow.

Read on for more about how your property tax assessment is calculated, what to do if you think your assessment is too high and how a professional appraisal company can help you with your appeal.

How Do BC Property Tax Assessments Work?

Every year, BC Assessment creates property tax assessments for over 2 million homes in BC. These assessments provide a valuation of each property as of July 1st in the previous year (So 2023 tax assessments are based on the value of homes on July 1st, 2022).

These assessments are used by local municipalities to calculate your annual property taxes. While the actual dollar valuation of the property is not the basis for your tax bill (i.e. an increase in property value doesn’t always mean an increase in taxes), if you’ve seen a larger-than-average increase (based on the average change in home values within your community), your bill could be affected.

BC property tax assessments are calculated using a variety of information sources, including:

  • Land title
  • Real estate transactions
  • Aerial and street view imagery
  • Building permits
  • Property visits

BC Assessment’s team of appraisers take this information and look at it alongside property market data from July 1st. Sales of comparable homes in the local area are analyzed along with specific features of each home to establish market value.

Things that may affect your BC Assessment valuation include:

  • Type of property
  • Location
  • View
  • Size of home in square feet
  • Number of rooms
  • Any recent additions / improvements
  • Age of home
  • Garages / carports / decks
  • Comparable sales prices

Did You Know? Changes to land zoning could impact your assessment. However, if you have owned and occupied your residential property for over 10 years, the valuation must remain based on current use, not potential use of the land. Therefore, any potential development due to zoning changes would not be valued. 

How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment

In their 2021 Annual Report, BC Assessment notes it received 4,427 appeals that year, 10% of which were from Vancouver Island. According to the Times Colonist, this number is well below the approximately 20% of homeowners who should be appealing their property assessments each year.

If you think your property tax assessment is too high, there are some steps you should take to decide whether you should appeal.

  • First, use the online assessment search tool to see what other homes in your area, and homes comparable to yours, have been assessed at. The important thing to look at is the % increase. You may find that although your value has increased a lot, it is in line with the average for your area and so there is no case for appeal.
  • However, if you feel your home has increased significantly compared to your neighbours and other comparable homes, then you may have a case for appeal.
  • BC Assessment suggests anyone with concerns should contact them to have an informal discussion with an appraiser. If both sides agree a change is needed it can be done without having to go through a formal appeal process. 96% of cases were solved this way in 2021.
  • If following this initial discussion, you are still not satisfied with the assessment, you can lodge a formal appeal and request an independent review by the Property Assessment Review Panel (PARP). The PARP has the authority to investigate and adjudicate assessments and can make rulings to amend the issued assessment.

Remember: You must submit your appeal by January 31 – late appeal submissions will not be considered.

Once you have submitted your appeal:

  • Appeal hearings take place between February 1st and March 15th. You will receive a notice of hearing time and date. It is important you start to gather support information as soon as you submit your appeal. (See below).
  • PARP may issue a decision at the hearing or by April 7 at the latest.
  • If you remain unhappy with the decision of the PARP you may refer your appeal to the Property Assessment Appeal Board. The deadline for appeals to PAAB is April 30.

How to Prepare Your Supporting Evidence Package

One of the most important things to do after submitting an appeal is to prepare your supporting evidence package. At the PARP panel hearing, you will be given 6 to 10 minutes to present evidence to support your claim that the tax assessment is incorrect.

This evidence package should include:

  • Comparative properties
  • Evidence of real home sales in your neighbourhood 
  • Photographs of your home and comparable properties
  • Evidence of views, condition of the home and any damage requiring repair 

For more information on the appeals process and what to include in your appeal evidence see this useful guide.

How an Independent Appraiser Can Help Your Appeal

The key to a good property tax appeal package is to be concise and include relevant and clear information.

Not everyone has the time or ability to do this, but did you know you can get assistance from an independent qualified appraisal company to create your BC Assessment appeal package? Appraisers are experts in the local market and can pull together comparison information and an accurate valuation to support your appeal.

While an appraisal for the purpose of a property tax dispute is somewhat different to a regular appraisal, because it has to reflect the market as of the previous July, a good appraisal company will be able to help.

Get Support in Your Property Tax Dispute From D.Fritz Appraisals Inc 

At D Fritz Appraisals Inc, we have over 24 years of experience appraising homes in the Victoria, BC, region and consider ourselves to be experts on Vancouver Island housing market conditions.

Not sure whether you have a good case to appeal property tax assessment? For a nominal fee, D.Fritz offers a telephone or online consultation to offer direction on whether you should proceed with your appeal or not.

If you decide to go ahead with an appeal, contact us at D. Fritz as soon as possible to book a time to carry out your appraisal.

home appraiser

Home Appraisals – What Do They Look For?

How Home Appraisers Decide on the Value of Your Property


There are many reasons you may need to know the value of your property and for this, you need a home appraisal.

Home appraisers are trained to inspect and measure your property and perform comparisons that result in an accurate valuation for the current housing market.

Home appraisals are a vital part of the home buying process as they have a big influence on the amount a lending institution will loan the buyer. They are also used to assess the value of the home for home improvement loans and insurance evaluations.

Read on for more information about how a home appraiser determines the value of your property.

What is a Home Appraisal and Why is it Important?

A home appraisal is a legal document containing information that determines the current fair market value of a new or existing property. Financial institutes or mortgage lenders will require an appraisal to ensure the home is worth the amount of money being requested in the loan or mortgage.

Home appraisals are not just for when someone is buying or selling a home for themselves however, they are also important for:

What is Checked During a Home Appraisal?

There are two main parts to a Home Appraisal:

  • Inspection of the property
  • Research and analysis of comparable properties

Property inspection: As part of the appraisal process, your home appraiser will conduct an on-site inspection of the property. During this inspection they are looking at:

  • General characteristics of the home:
    • Size of home – square footage, number of rooms – especially bed and bathrooms
    • Functionality of design and layout
    • Any exterior amenities such as garage, deck, pool
    • Type of foundation
    • Whether a basement or attic are present and their state of finish

Note that appraisers are not looking for any signs of damage to the foundation, basement, attic or mechanical equipment – that would be done by a home inspector as part of the conditions of sale.

  • Quality assessment:
    • Current condition of internal and external aspects of the home – including material and state of walls, floors, roof, windows
    • Type and age of plumbing and other systems (condition would be determined during a home inspection)
  • Any improvements that have been made:
    • Updates to kitchens and bathrooms
    • New efficient heating and cooling systems
    • Recent replacement of major ticket items like windows / roof
    • Energy efficient features such as HVAC, energy star appliances

Note: Home appraisers only look at the fixed features of the home. They are not assessing décor or any feature that is considered removable.

  • Lot:
    • Size and topography of the lot
    • View (including negative views)
    • Vehicular access
    • Any existing easements or zoning issues
  • Location:
    • How well does the home fit in with the surrounding neighbourhood?
    • Local amenities – how close is the home to hospitals, schools, shops and public transport corridors?
    • Crime levels and general condition of the neighbourhood

Comparison to similar properties: As part of the research involved in a home appraisal report, the appraiser will compare the home with others that have recently sold that:

  • Are in the same or similar neighbourhood 
  • Have comparable features such as size, number of rooms, age

The appraiser will review the sale price of these similar homes and make adjustments to account for any differences between them and the home being appraised.

How Does a Home Appraiser Determine Value?

When compiling their final report, home appraisers will determine the final value using a combination of two out of these three methods:

  • Direct comparison: Value is determined by analyzing comparable properties.
  • Cost approach: Value is derived from the cost to replace or rebuild the property and its associated land minus any age-related depreciation.
  • Income approach: Value is determined based on the rental income potential – usually only used when the property is being purchased for this purpose as an investment property.

The final appraised value of your home may be affected, either positively or negatively, by:

  • The location of the home
  • Current real estate market conditions
  • Size of home and number of rooms
  • Zoning in the neighbourhood
  • Future potential for development of the home

Things that can negatively impact the value of your property in a home appraisal include:

  • Delayed maintenance
  • Dated or undesirable features
  • Undeclared repairs
  • Inexperienced appraiser – make sure you choose a professional appraiser who is in good standing with the Appraisal Institute of Canada and who has a good understanding of the local market conditions where your property is located.

How Can You Help Improve the Appraisal Value of Your Property?

If you are preparing for an appraisal on your home there are a few things you can do to help improve the final appraised value, such as:

  • Prepare – treat an appraisal the same as a house viewing – present your home in its best light.
  • Simple fixes – repair minor damage, paint over marks on walls etc.
  • Paperwork – gather any relevant paperwork that supports the valuation of the home such as property tax bills, HOA fees, receipts and permits for any improvements or upgrades.

This pre-appraisal checklist for homeowners is a great starting point for anyone looking for the best ways to positively influence their final appraisal value.

Get Expert Help from a Local Qualified Home Appraisal Team

If you need an appraisal on your property for any reason, make sure you use an experienced and qualified appraiser like the team at D.Fritz Appraisals Inc. Based in Victoria, BC and offering home appraisals across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, our team of appraisers are all in good standing with the Appraisers Institute of Canada and have superior knowledge of the local market.

Whether you are a property owner, real estate agent, mortgage broker or lawyer, we can provide quick and accurate home appraisal services. Contact us today to let us know how we can help with your home appraisal needs.

investment property appraisals

Home Appraisals for Rental Properties

Investment Property Appraisals – What You Need to Know

Let’s take a look at investment property appraisals because it doesn’t look like our gold rush of a real estate market is slowing down anytime soon. Perhaps your family has outgrown your home and are thinking of moving but would like to keep your current place of residence.

Mortgages, property taxes, and utilities aren’t going to get much cheaper, so what’s a viable solution? 

If you are planning on moving or looking for more passive income, it might be time to rent out your property.

While having a new stream of cash flow can be exciting, you’ll also be taking on the role of a landlord

However, before you take on this exciting challenge, you’ll need a rental property appraisal first.

At D. Fritz Appraisals Inc., our team offers the most accurate, fair value assessments for rental properties. 

Why Rent Out Your Property?

Typically, when people sell their homes, they use the equity they have built in one house and use it on the next. But that’s not always the case.

Some homeowners will convert their primary residence to an investment property, and it’s usually done for one of two reasons.

  1. A homeowner might do this because the housing market is struggling, and they’re concerned their home’s value has dropped. By renting it out instead of selling it, they can hold on to the property and wait for the value to rise again. 
  2. Another reason to rent out your home is to increase your monthly income. By converting your primary residence to an investment property, your family can enjoy the perks of having their mortgage payments paid for.

But what’s the difference between a primary residence and investment property?

What Makes a Primary Residence or Investment Property?

Whether it’s a house or an apartment, you can only own one primary residence at a time.

If you are buying a home as a primary residence, you may be able to receive lower interest rates and lower down payments. Depending on where you live, you might be able to apply for tax benefits. 

An investment property is purely to generate income. If you are purchasing a home or apartment as an investment property, you may need a larger down payment and pay a higher interest rate.

Whether you are converting a primary residence to a rental property or purchasing an investment property, it can have its own set of challenges. 

What to Consider Before Renting Out Your Real Estate

One of the most important things to consider is your mortgage agreement. Typically, when you sign a mortgage, you must live in your primary residence for 1 to 2 years. If enough time has passed and you want to convert your primary residence to an investment property, you are free to do so.  

When your primary residence changes over to an investment property, your taxes are likely to change. You can benefit from a wide variety of deductions on your taxes, utilities, and much more.

Finally, you’ll need to speak to your insurance company. Switching from your current house insurance to rental insurance will likely increase your rates. This covers your building, but not your renters’ belongings – they would have to get their own renter’s insurance. 

With all of these things to consider, it’s time to get your investment property appraised. But how do professionals find an accurate assessment?

How to Value Your Real Estate Rental Property

With income from investment properties at an all-time high, rentals can offer an increasing source of revenue for your family.

While there isn’t just one solution to appraise your property, a combination of different methods can help you find an accurate assessment.

Here are some of the more common ways to value your rental property:

  • The Sales Comparison Approach

SCA is one of the most popular ways of valuing residential real estate. This involves a comparison of similar homes that have been sold or rented locally over a certain period. 

  • The Capital Asset Pricing Model

CAPM is a more comprehensive valuation model. This details the potential return of investment from your rental property and whether or not it’s viable. 

  • The Income Approach

This indicates the potential income for your rental property, compared to the initial investment. This approach is commonly used for commercial real estate investing. 

  • Gross Rent Multiplier Approach

GRM will value a rental property based on the amount an investor can potentially collect every year. While it’s easy to measure whether or not a property is worth the investment, this won’t take taxes, insurance, utilities, and other expenses into account. 

  • The Cost Approach

This model combines the land value and the depreciated value of any home improvements. While this approach can value newer homes reliably, it may not work for older properties. 

For more in-depth details about the appraisal process, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. 

Deducting Taxable Income 

One of the benefits of owning a rental property is claiming tax deductions for any expenses related to the property. You can claim rental income and additional expenses on “Form T776”. 

The most common rental expenses can include:

  • Home insurance
  • Heat
  • Hydro
  • Water
  • Mortgage insurance

Claiming these expenses will save you money in tax deductions, but why not take it a step further? As long as it’s concerning your rental property, you can claim so much more.

You can deduct additional expenses such as:

  • Advertising your rental property
  • Bank fees and interest
  • Property taxes
  • Cable
  • Office expenses
  • Travel if your rental is in a different municipality
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Salaries and management

Some expenses can be deducted in full if it’s spent to maintain the rental property. However, if your rental is a part of your primary residence, you can only claim a certain percentage.

Much like anything home-related, there are always stipulations on how much you can deduct. Check out rental expenses you can deduct from the Canada Revenue site to learn more. 

Get Your Fair Value Rental Assessment Today

While there is no one way to appraise the value of a rental property, it’s important to look at the different valuation methods before making an investment decision. 

By learning these valuation concepts and researching how to save on expenses, you could be well on your way to getting into the real estate investment market.

At D. Fritz Appraisals Inc., our team has over 40 years of experience appraising homes, offering the most precise assessment according to the market today. Our appraisers are certified, professionally insured, and committed to the appraisal process every step of the way.

 Contact us today for a professional appraisal of your rental property. 

pre-appraisal checklist for homeowners

Pre-Appraisal Checklist for Homeowners

Be Prepared for an Appraisal for a Positive Impact on Your Home’s Valuation

Whether you’re selling, refinancing, dividing assets, settling an estate, or determining capital gains on an income property, it pays dividends to be prepared for your home appraisal.

The benchmark for your home’s worth, an appraisal is a legal document that determines the fair market value of a property. It takes the home itself, the neighbourhood and the available historical data into account to determine the most accurate valuation. If you want to refinance, sell, or buy, the appraisal provides mortgage lenders with straight facts so they can underwrite loans based on the purchase price or the appraisal (whichever is lower.) If you’re selling or dividing assets post-divorce, the appraised value ensures that you’ll receive a fair sale price.

How Do I Get Ready for the Appraisal on My House?

Thinking back to when you first listed your home, you likely cleaned it top to bottom and got it looking as good as new for the marketing materials. You’ll want to do this again for your appraisal, so your home makes the best impression possible.

To prepare, gather up all the details about your home relevant to its value. Have a record of comparable properties in the neighbourhood, plus information about neighbourhood amenities. Once that’s done, you can turn to the home’s appearance, doing any repairs and getting estimates for any larger repairs or updates that are needed. Also, don’t overlook the general condition and upkeep of your home. Essentially, you’re going to want to pretend you’re listing your home for the first time and get it looking its best, attending to anything that may have been missed when it was placed on the market.

A good rule of thumb is the $500 rule. Anything that needs to be repaired or updated usually detracts from a home appraisal in $500 increments. Things like cracked tiles, broken fixtures or an outdated countertop can add up to thousands less in your home valuation. Before your home appraisal, you’ll want to go through your home and take care of anything that costs less than $500 to fix. You’ll be able to recover those costs in your home appraisal.

On the day of the appraisal, make sure the appraiser will be able to move around the full perimeter of the home and that all rooms are accessible. You may also want to contain any pets who may be a disturbance. We’ve prepared a complete checklist to make preparing for your home appraisal as simple as possible:

Full Residential Pre-Appraisal Checklist

Information About the Home

  • List of improvements made in the last 15 years, with costs and completion dates.
  • Plot/blueprint or property survey.
  • Home inspection reports (current and previous). If you’re unsure about the difference between each, we have a helpful blog post on home inspections vs. home appraisals.
  • Copies of any previous appraisals – this can help the appraiser see how the value has changed over the years. This can help to pinpoint any trends when combined with the BC Property Assessment information.
  • HOA documents – if you live in an HOA neighbourhood, the appraiser will need to see the costs, regular maintenance schedule, history of fee increases, etc.
  • Any known inconsistencies with data – if your assessed property value has been fluctuating wildly over the years, this needs to be looked at. This will help ensure a fair market value.
  • Any non-permitted additions – if you’ve added a permanent structure without a permit, this can impact the value of your home and pass an unwanted issue on to the buyer. It’s important to note that any undisclosed additions can cause a breach of conditions in your sale contract.
  • Any easements or encroachments – any part of the property should be accounted for to get the most accurate estimate of the land value.
  • The CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) from your Realtor – review this document to see if you know of any homes that were renovated after purchase. Their newly increased value can increase your neighbourhood’s benchmark prices and potentially, that of your home. Properties that have undergone significant changes may no longer be useful for the CMA.

Neighbourhood Features

  • Nearby schools and any special notes about their programs
  • Nearby parks and green space
  • Amenities and shopping
  • Public transport locations
  • Any infrastructure that’s been added since you bought the house


Interior Care

  • Clean up and repaint areas where paint is peeling and discoloured
  • Repair or replace broken hardware
  • Replace outdated fixtures
  • Clean carpets and mop hard flooring
  • Repair any loose floorboards, broken blinds, etc.


Installations

  • Are smoke detectors working?
  • Are carbon monoxide detectors working?
  • Is the water heater strapped?
  • Is the security system in good working order?
  • Are all appliances properly installed and working?


Repairs

  • Note any major repairs and how much it would cost to complete them.
    The appraiser will be able to factor that cost into the appraisal as if the repair or upgrade were already completed.
  • Any leaks in roof or key parts of the home
  • Cracks in walls or foundation
  • Damage to flooring
  • Damage to drywall or exterior stucco/siding
  • Peeling paint
  • Visible damage to doors, windows, screens, etc.


Exterior Care

  • Remove clutter and stray toys from the front and back yards
  • Mow the lawn
  • Tidy the garden and do a little light landscaping
  • If possible, add colour with flowers
  • Touch up paint where it’s needed
  • Replace any broken gutters
  • Update older fixtures and address numbers
  • Remove any outdated décor

 

If you have any questions or concerns about the appraisal process, we recommend looking through our FAQ section, or contacting us by phone or email for assistance. You may also want to speak with your real estate agents about your appraisal preparation.

For even more ways to increase your home’s appraisal value, be sure to read our post on 8 ways to increase the value of your home.

D. Fritz is your residential appraisal expert for Vancouver Island, Victoria and the Gulf Islands. If you’re considering refinancing, buying or selling, our professional team will provide the most accurate and comprehensive evaluations. With a combined half century of experience across the industry in business administration, lending and real estate sales, you can trust in D. Fritz for your real estate appraisal. To order your appraisal, contact our team today.

choosing the right real estate appraisal company

Get to Know your Home Appraisal Company

What to Look for in a Home Appraisal Company

Looking for a Home Appraisal Company in Victoria, BC? Here’s a Quick Guide to Help You Decide Who to Hire

If you own your own home, there are four main reasons why you might be looking to hire a property appraisal company instead of going through the banks:

  • you are planning on selling your property and want to know how much it’s worth;choosing the right real estate appraisal company
  • you are looking into refinancing your home and want an idea of its current value;
  • you need to start dividing assets amongst family members or a former spouse; or
  • you want a second opinion to compare with what a previous company gave you.

In any of these situations, a property appraisal company can help, and it will be up to you to hire the right company for the job. (This is unlike when you’re buying a home and paying for a property appraisal to satisfy the bank lending you your mortgage – in this case the bank has a list of companies they work with).

So, when it’s up to you, how do you know what property appraisal company to hire? Start with our quick guide to choosing a home appraisal company. Here are some of the key things to look for:

Knowledge of Your Property Type

Before anything else, be sure you’re only considering real estate appraisal companies that specialize in your property type. Some companies specialize in commercial buildings, while others specialize strictly in residential properties.

Depending on where you live, there may be companies that further specialize in condos or heritage buildings over detached homes, so double-check you’re looking at companies that can meet your needs in this regard.

For example, if you are looking for an appraisal on two acres of farmland, someone specializing in Victoria’s downtown core might not be a good fit. If you are planning to list a three-bedroom house with a suite in Oak Bay, look for appraisal companies with expertise in that kind of property.

Knowledge of Your Neighbourhood

Confirm the appraiser’s knowledge of your specific neighbourhood. The appraisal company you hire should have a complete understanding of the local region, including its facilities, amenities, property types, and recent home sales and prices.

They should know about potential rezoning and redevelopment set to take place in the neighbourhood, as well as any future investments taking place or ongoing efforts to make the neighbourhood even more desirable.

Is the neighbourhood set to densify in the next 10 years? Is a major transportation upgrade destined to arrive? Are new schools and hospitals being built nearby? These are all things a knowledgeable property appraiser will be able to tell you, and factor into their appraisal report.

Longevity in the Industry

A good indicator of whether a company has some or all of the attributes listed above is how long they have been in the industry for. A company with decades of experience speaks to their reputation and knowledge of the market. D. Fritz Appraisals is one of Victoria’s longest standing appraisal firms, with more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of the real estate industry in Victoria, BC. We would be happy to show you how we got there!

Word of Mouth Recommendations

If your neighbours, colleagues, friends, or family have recently gone through the home appraisal process, ask them who they used and if they would recommend their services.

Online Reviews

Likewise, use things like online reviews to help you decide on which company will be best at meeting your home appraisal needs. Online reviews often highlight things like the company’s level of customer service and timeliness of correspondence – two major factors when timing is of the essence in the real estate game.

Credentials & Education

Ask an appraisal company about their staff’s education, certifications, and amount of insurance liability. Look for a company whose appraisers are certified with the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) and professionally insured for liability according to the Canadian Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (CUSPAP).

Level of Experience

Ideally the property appraiser you hire will have extensive industry experience, having worked as a mortgage broker, real estate agent, or otherwise in the past. It’s encouraged to evaluate the appraiser’s experience level and ask them for a short biography (often provided on the company’s website in the About Us section) and a list of two or three references (testimonials) from current or previous clients.

Level of Support

Confirm with the appraisal company what is included in their services, so you know exactly what you are paying for in the final report. If you have questions about the appraisal process along the way, and care to ask the appraiser for tips on how to improve the valuation, find out beforehand if this level of service is to be expected. Also make sure a copy of their report is included in the services you are paying for! This is especially important if this is your first time undergoing the process of having your property assessed.

Methodologies Used

Once you’re satisfied with all the above, the last step is asking the appraiser about their appraisal methodology. Find out what steps they take to determine the value of your home. Most appraisers start with their in-house database of recent sales and market trends, checking to see if prices are rising or falling. Next they supplement that data with data from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), and then do a site visit of the property.

Up Next: Home Inspections vs. Home Appraisals

The property appraisers at D. Fritz Appraisals would be happy to provide you with more details on our real estate appraisal services in the Victoria region of Vancouver Island. Contact us today to learn more. We specialize in real estate appraisals for all situations, such mortgage refinancing, new construction, division of assets, and estates.

 

 

Home Appraisals - onsite vs online

Home Appraisals vs Online Home Value Calculators

Home Appraisals and Online Home Value Estimates Are NOT the Same Thing

On-site vs. Online: Proper Home Appraisals Need to be Done in Person

With so many types of transactions solely being handled online these days, it’s tempting to want to complete your required home appraisals entirely online and leave it at that. Online home value estimates, however, are not a substitute for a house appraisal carried out by a licensed real estate appraiser.

Online home value estimators can sometimes come close to providing the right answers, but they will never completely beat out the accuracy of an on-site visit by a professional. Nothing can beat the human touch when it comes to home appraisals! The following blog post explores why this is.

What is a Home Appraisal?Home Appraisals - onsite vs online

A home or house appraisal is a third-party report written by a professional appraiser who visits the property and does market research to analyze how much the house is worth in today’s market. An appraisal report informs homeowners, home buyers, and mortgage lenders on the market value of the home.

What is an Online Home Value Estimator?

An online home value estimator is a website or online tool that gives you a rough idea of what your home is worth, based on things like its address, square footage, lot size, and age. There are several competing websites and online platforms and tools offering home value estimators or home value estimating services. Sometimes these online services are referred to more formally as Automated Valuation Models (AVMs), or more casually, home value calculators.

There are online home value estimation tools for homeowners, realtors, and also for banks. While there are free online tools available to homeowners, the Realtors Property Resource is only available to real estate agents. Furthermore, some B2B home valuation services require a subscription, making them suitable for financial institutions and other companies who have recently started providing home estimates to accompany their other financial services.

Each of these tools, however, are likely to provide slightly varying results making them difficult to rely on for any definitive answers.

There are websites that provide home value estimations just by searching an address, while others may provide an estimate only upon request. The most basic ones are featured front row centre on real estate agent and mortgage broker websites. They start by simply asking you “What is your home worth?” or invite you to “Find out how much your house is worth.”

To use the tool, you simply enter your address, and then a few other property details, such as the age and type of property you have, how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and how big the lot size is.  Many of the tools ask you for your contact details or ask you to create an account so they can follow up with you. These free online calculators are essentially marketing tools but can provide a nice starting point for homeowners just starting to think about listing.

How Online Home Value Estimators Work

Online home value estimators provide estimated values for properties based on algorithms and calculations using different sets of property data, taken from MLS and BC Assessment, for example. They look for patterns and relationships between stored property values and the information you have input. These tools often look at past property tax records, what nearby homes have sold for recently, and the average price per square foot in the area.

Home value estimators are limited in what they can estimate, relying solely on the user’s answers to a handful of generic questions. They may or may not be able to calculate the desirability of the city the properties are located in. As such, they should not be considered as a substitute for formal home appraisals. This is because they are incapable of carrying out an up-to-the-minute comparative market analysis on your property, nor do they have intimate, in-depth knowledge of your local area like a local real estate appraiser would have.

Limitations of Home Value Estimators

Home value estimators can give you a rough estimate of what your home is worth, but they cannot account for things like:

  • unique features of a home
  • recent repairs or renovations
  • add-ons or upgrades
  • local markets
  • neighbourhood charm
  • nearby attractions and amenities
  • future amenities
  • quality of the views
  • how well-cared for the home is

In contrast, a licenced property appraisal professional looks at all of those things and more to deliver a thorough, trustworthy and confidential appraisal.

The Takeaway

As technologies get better and better and more data becomes available, the number of companies offering online home value estimates may grow. As it stands, although online home valuation calculators are not thorough or robust enough to replace a human appraiser, they are still commonly used to get both high and low ratio mortgages approved.

A good example of this is CMHC’s auto valuation tool called Emili. Described by the CMHC as “a groundbreaking on-line mortgage loan insurance [decision-making] system,” Emili is essentially a database of properties that uses different factors as way of determining what a house is worth.
Most of these online estimators will highlight the importance of meeting with a real estate professional or home appraiser to receive an in-depth, in-person appraisal of the property that factors in local markets.

A Homeowner’s Next Steps

If you require a general sense of how much your home is worth, an online home value estimator may be a good place to start as they are free and fast.  Some realtors, financial institutions, and professional property appraisers do use sophisticated versions of them as a starting point before doing an on-site appraisal.

After you have checked your home’s value online, consider meeting with a real estate agent to see what they would list your house for. If the numbers are aligned, that’s a good thing! But if the numbers are wildly off, a professional home appraiser can help.

If you receive a home appraisal that is a lot different than the amount an online value home estimator provided you, do not be alarmed. It’s common for these numbers to be different, and when they are, we recommend trusting the person who looked at your property in person. Artificial Intelligence cannot yet beat human input when it comes to home appraisals!

Contact D. Fritz Appraisals today to book your next appraisal in Victoria, BC. We specialize in real estate appraisals for all situations, such as mortgage refinancing, new construction, division of assets, and estates.

Home Inspection vs Home Appraisal

Home Inspections vs Home Appraisals

What’s the Difference Between a Home Inspection and a Home Appraisal?

If you’re in the market for a new home, the terms “home appraisal” and “home inspection” are more than likely to come up at some point as you zero in on a property you want to buy. Upon acceptance of your offer, the next steps are usually:

  • home inspection – a voluntary third-party service ordered by the buyer, and
  • home appraisal – an often mandatory step the buyer’s lender insists on.difference between home appraisal and home inspection

A home appraisal and a home inspection are two important steps in many real estate transactions, and for new buyers, there can sometimes be confusion over the two terms. An appraiser and a home inspector are two different service providers, who both happen to be looking at the house you are thinking of buying, but for different reasons. Understanding the differences between an appraisal and an inspection will help you understand when you might need one or the other – or both – before you buy your first home.

Let’s explore the similarities and differences between a home inspection and a home appraisal.

What Is a Home Appraisal?

Sometimes referred to as a property appraisal or a real estate appraisal, a home or house appraisal is a third-party report written by a professional appraiser that is meant to inform you and your mortgage lender on the monetary value of the property you are looking at buying.

Appraisals help make sure all parties in a real estate transaction get a current, accurate, and fair value for the property. In many cases, a mortgage lender assigns a home appraiser to go and view the property and generate a report. The appraiser confirms with the bank that the amount of money being loaned out is fitting, so the bank doesn’t lose in the case of foreclosure.

Like us here at D. Fritz Appraisals in Victoria BC, home appraisers check the overall condition of the home and compare it against the prices of recently sold and currently listed homes in the neighborhood to determine a value for the property. As professional appraisers, we also look at things like square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, any obvious property damage, quality of the views, and the working order of major systems and structures as well.

Appraisers also factor in the neighbourhood, such as nearby school zones, local crime rates, the lot size, proximity to amenities, and any up and coming construction that might increase the value of the existing property.

Read More: 8 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Once our appraisal is complete, a report is generated. Real estate appraisal documents are legal, confidential documents that are only released to the original requestor of the appraisal report as well as other parties with the original requestor’s permission.

What Is a Home Inspection?

During a home inspection, a home inspector inspects the property to report on any issues that could spell trouble for the buyer down the road, such as a cracked foundation, leaking roof, mold and water damage, evidence of a pest infestation, building code violations, and poorly installed plumbing and electrical equipment, for example.

A house inspector does not report on how much they think a home is worth on the market in its current condition. While a home appraiser also looks at the home’s physical condition, the inspector delves a little deeper than an appraiser, peaking behind the walls and in the crawl space and attic, for instance, to report on any costly repairs that might be needed in the future.

What do home appraisals and inspections have in common?

Appraisals and inspections share many similarities. For example:

  • They are both provided by a third-party, non-biased, professional agency.
  • They both involve a professional visiting and analyzing the condition of the property.
  • They both happen prior to the sale of a home and are often both added as subjects on a contract.
  • They both result in detailed reports highlighting the property’s condition, functionality, and integrity.
  • They both benefit the buyer primarily during the closing of their desired property.
  • They both require the seller to give them permission to enter the premises.

Both services also give a buyer negotiating power. If a contract of purchase includes a subject of sale based on the results of a home inspection, for example, a buyer can back out of the deal or negotiate a better price. Likewise, in the case of an appraiser appraising the property for less than expected, the lender may not loan the necessary funding, and the buyer can go back to the seller with this information. If there was a subject to financing, the seller may choose to work with the buyer by lowering the price.

How are home appraisals and home inspections different?

Despite having many similarities, appraisals and inspections have some key differences:

  • An appraiser examines the home as well as the values of other properties that have recently been sold in the area. In contrast, an inspector only looks at the property in question.
  • A buyer typically orders a home inspection at their discretion, whereas a home appraisal is usually mandated by their lender (mortgage provider).
  • An appraiser determines the value of the real estate, whereas an inspector reports on the overall condition of the home.
  • A home inspector stays on site for longer than an appraiser, searching every nook and cranny. In contrast, an appraiser is doing a simple walkthrough and combining their findings with information they gather off-site.

Do You Need both an Appraisal and a Home Inspection?

As a buyer, booking a home inspection is entirely up to you. It’s not unlike having a used car checked out by an auto mechanic before you buy it. A home inspection can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.  A home appraisal, on the other hand, is almost always required if you are looking to secure financing from a mortgage lender.

However, a property appraisal isn’t just for your lender’s peace of mind. It can also help you answer the question: Is the property really worth as much as the seller is saying it’s worth? Scheduling a home inspection on top of the home appraisal your lending institution will likely require you to get is often the most recommended course of action, especially if the property you are looking at is older, is no longer under a developer’s warranty, or is in a neighbourhood you are unfamiliar with.

Remember:

  • a home inspector cannot tell you what the home is worth. A home inspection report cannot be used to calculate a home’s value.
  • a home appraiser cannot speak to the level of repairs the home will need now or in the future. In other words, a highly appraised property value does not mean the property is in good shape underneath the finishings.

By ordering both processes, you get a complete picture of the property, without having to go solely on the word of the seller and their realtor. If you’re buying your first new home, we at D. Fritz Appraisals recommend both an inspection and an appraisal be done on the property for your total peace of mind before you buy.

To learn more about the appraisal process and what appraisers look for when we visit your property, contact D. Fritz Appraisals – your property appraisal experts in Victoria, BC, servicing Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.