Letter: Need some help with COMPS

Following is an email we received from Thom Barlow of Tampa, Florida:

I live on a modest little airport community 18 mi. north of Tampa FL. called Tampa North Aeropark (X39). Before this Sub-Prime Mortgage Fiasco hit the fan the market value of my 4 bedroom 3 full-bath country-style hangar home was approximately $440,000. Now I can’t get an appraisal up over $250,000. It seems “they” do everything they can to purposely de-value my place. My loan officer told me Bank of America is holding so many foreclosure properties they have de-valued everything in the market so they can unload their inventory.

My biggest hurdle is the COMPS. The Appraisers don’t know how to appraise “Airport Community Homes”, They just don’t see the VALUE of living with your plane on a runway. They want to compare my place with a run-of-the-mill home in the area. More than likely sold real cheap & fast so the seller could get out from under a sub-prime mortgage and/or they lost their employment during this fiasco the Banks caused to the world economy.

My question to you is . . . Do you have knowledge of this happening elsewhere? If so . . . What is being done to address it?

Could you direct my path to Real Estate Appraisers that know what they’re doing ? I don’t care if they’re in other states. They might know useful strategies and have connections that could help me here. This might be an area for your “Living with your Plane” to address at this time.

Answer: Thanks for your letter. I understand your predicament and although it doesn’t help much, there are many others facing similar situations as yours. Unfortunately, during the boom years in the residential home mortgage market some appraisers didn’t do their job properly: they found out what the requested loan was and the resulting appraisal in far too many instances came out high enough to allow the loan. Today, with banks and mortgage firms under a lot of pressure from federal agencies, the appraisers must be much more accurate in their reports.

When you couple the pressure on the appraisers with the slowdown or meltdown in home values, you find appraisals are coming in much lower now than a few years ago. And, as you have discovered, airpark homes are not all that common which makes it difficult for appraisers to come up with legitimate comparable sales. And, most appraisers don’t have the foggiest notion of a residential airpark (just like insurance agents and mortage companies) so that makes the situation doubly perilous.

We have encouraged mortgage lenders and appraisers both to start looking at online sites like Zillow as a source for comps. Zillow maintains an extensive database of home sales and usually you can find sales within a reasonable distance of your property with which to compare square footage, amenities, etc. I encourage appraisers to compare airpark homes with golf course homes as a means of establishing comps. Not an exact science, but neither is the appraisal business.

Click on Resources section of the Living With Your Plane website and you will find a variety of professionals who hopefully can assist you in your efforts.

Please keep us posted on your situation.

12 replies on “Letter: Need some help with COMPS”

I live at Buckingham Airpark in Fort Myers, FL. We have had good success with an appraiser by the name of Andrew Bowes, he is licensed and certified and has appraised many airpark properties for our clients; with FL lenders and an out-of-state lender. The contact numbers I have for Andy are: 239-649-1446/239-272-5937 and 239-596-3576. His office is in Naples, FL

My Insurance company has notified me that they will not reissue my home owners insurance (only because I live in a fly-in community) and no other reason.

I am Lenny Ohlsson, broker of Spruce Creek Fly-In Realty, and my office sells a lot of airport property.

We had to school our appraisers to the value of airpark property and the value of hangars.

I have been using Hefferington appraisers at 386-760-7601. When you call mention :the fly-in” so they understand the properties value. I believe it is worth more than golf communities as there are a lot more golf communities then airparks.

Lenny Ohlsson

Something I ran across is that an appraiser can actually devalue our runway homes. Living so near an airport is actually considered a nuisance! My home owners’ insurance dropped us (after 20 years) when they found out we lived on an airport. We had to find a more enlightened agent. We are a unique group but it should not be so hard to understand. Golfers live on golf courses, boaters live by the water, and we live on airports. With all of the trouble, in the end it is well worth it. Good luck to you.

As frustrating at that is, there may be some hope for you. First, was your airport foolish enough to borrow money from the FAA, (Feds Against Aviation) AIP money as they call it? If not, you are several steps ahead of the game. There are literally thousands of people who live on federally funded airports that are being told they must terminate their airport access upon the sale of their homes, as they, after many years, have become an “incompatible” land use next to an airport. What do you think those home will be worth?
If you are not on a federally funded airport, you should be sure an advertize it that way on “Living with your plane.” Your ad could go something like this. “Are you tired of your government agency, the FAA, (Feds Against Aviation” ruining your property value and your life with years of court battles and attorney fees? Well then, you should come look at this beautiful home on a fantastic private airport without the “help” of that government agency. We live in peace, love our neighbors and enjoy living with our planes. You won’t find that at those other airports. So, before you buy at the wrong airport come take a look at what happiness is.

A happy airpark homeowner.

Check with John Eney at Chesapeake Ranch Estates in Lusby, Maryland. Seems to me that several houses with hangars have sold recently. They have 50 +/- houses with hangars and several hundred without hangars.

Don’t have his number handy. I can re-email you tomorrow. But maybe you can look him up in your listings.

We are at Deerfield Landing in Eatonton, GA. Very Small with almost half the lots sold. Only 3 have any type of structure at all. There is no movement here either way, so we can’t help you. I can tell you that other properties in GA are in the same devaluation situation due to high foreclosures.

Good Luck! Hopefully you can find someone who wants your property and pay cash so an appraisal won’t matter.

I am not sure who I am sending this to, however it is directed at Thom Barlow. I have also sent an e-mail containing a Vero Beach newspaper article written by Linda Bolton on the subject Thom Barlow is experiencing. My wife wrote a letter to the editor supporting the views of Linda, however they did not print it. We have land at Cannon Creek and were ready to start building there as soon as we could sell our house in Vero Beach. The housing market bubble burst and we could not give our house away let alone sell it. I can sympathize with the plight of agents lack of income in these sort of times, but they did not save for rainy days when times were good. Now they are all driving 2-3 year-old Mercedes and BMWs. One of our main problems, and this may be the problem elsewhere, is the Realtors Association that controls what agencies and agents do. A couple of the agents we were listed with gave us the impression that the Association laid down all the rules. Obviously they do not want rebels or anyone breaking rank. I tried to contact Linda Bolton but could not find her contact. If you can find her, she may run the article in your local paper. The Realtor’s Association did refute this article but it was full of false claims. I think your best bet might be to contact the realtors who list airparks in the Aviation press, like Trade-a-Plane and a few others. They may know of friendly appraisers. Being with Bank of America is another problem. In their greed they did not do due diligence when buying Country Wide and now they are just abusing all of their customers because of their own mistakes, even when the taxpayers bailed them out of debt. Don’t get me started on that. My wife just told me that one of our EAA member’s wife is a real estate appraiser. She would be familiar with aviation homes.

Just looked at a fresh appraisal on a private air park in central FL. Value by cost basis was $375,000, value by comps was $250,000. “Reason” was “declining market” and “REOs available” – yeah 15 miles away in a standard residential subdivision – of course there are almost NO REOs anywhere which have runway access, so they are not really comparable after all. The appraiser is ignorant of the value of airport property – why would anyone spend $375,000 to build a house worth $250,000?

Probably the best thing to do is wait a few years until sanity returns to the market and values go back to where they should be. Until all the greedy banks with their no income, no assets loans are gone, we are going to be stuck in this mess. Thank Wall Street for our problems – they are so “smart” that WE got hoisted on THEIR petard (as usual).

And Bank of America is the WORST bank in the known universe – I’d rather bury my money in a coffee can in the back yard than let them anywhere near it. The very name is an insult to our country. It should be named “Bank of Criminals”.

Zillow will only value your property with the residential listings near by. I tried to update ours with the value of the hangar and they would not do it. To them it is a ‘garage’ and has no more value than the 2/3 car garage in the residential area down the road!

I have also tried to correct which house/hangar is ours on Zillow. Have never accomplished this task! So they continue to show the wrong house and definately an incorrect value!

Appraisers do need to be educated on airpark values!

As a certified appraiser in Texas FINDING comps with a hanger and a air strip within the LENDERS guidelines is just about impossible. Their money their rules. The value of your house and amenities is NOT your house. Its what your comparable neighbors sold their homes for. I just searched a 25 mile radius going back in time 18 months. NO comparable sales. So the next best thing is a comp which has a metal building (workshop).

Sure there are other approaches to market value but as I have already mention. Their money THEIR rules.

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