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Tips for Increasing Your Appraisal Value: An Interview with Jarvis Martin of Martin & Company Appraisals

By Jarvis Martin

Tell us a little about your company and its foundation?

Martin & Company is a full service real estate appraisal & consulting firm, serving the RTP area since 1976. The firm is a family business operated by I. Jarvis Martin & wife Norma B. Martin. I am a State Certified General Appraiser, with the SRA (Senior Residential Appraiser) designation from the Appraisal Institute. I have a BS & Master's degree in Commerce from North Carolina Central University. I was one of the appraisers requested by the NC Appraisal Board to take to state's original test, & provide feedback in 1992 when the federal government passed laws that required all appraisers who provide services to Federal Insured Banks, must become state license or certified. I was honored by the Durham Regional Association of REALTORS as the 2014 "Realtor of the Year". Norma is a state certified residential appraiser, an associate member of the Appraisal Institute. She has a BS, from North Carolina Central University in Commerce and a Master's in Public Administration from UNC Greensboro. Norma worked for IBM Corporation for 15 years until 1995, when she left corporate America to join the firm. Over the years we have help train several appraisers who are now operating their own firm and/or went to work in state government. Currently, we have one appraiser trainee.

What are some of the services your firm provides?

We provide residential and commercial appraisals to lenders, government agencies, attorneys and private individuals. We provide valuation consulting for zoning, condemnation, and estate property matters. On a personal bases, I am a partner in a local development firm that has constructed, or renovated over 300 affordable rental units, using low income tax credits or community block grant funds. Over the past several years, Norma & I have purchased & renovated over 30 homes or small apartments for resale or to lease. We can provide professional consulting service to persons, interested in purchasing houses or apartments to renovate & flip or renovate and keep as income providing properties.

As an appraiser, what are the big influential areas you look to when deciding a home's worth?

Location, location, and location. A property must be in an area where there is market demand & growth, convenient to good schools, neighborhood parks, shopping centers, with easy access to public transportation & centers of major employment. Quality of construction, condition, and appearance is important, a house must be well maintained, and updated as need. A house must be functional in terms of interior layout, proper number of bedrooms & baths.

How important are little things to you (e.g. trimming of lawn, having a clean house) when assessing the value of a home?

I inform property owners, I am not there to judge housekeeping. The above items tend to influence market appeal, if the house in on the market for sale & not market value. The lack of a well maintained yard & poor housekeeping, generally is an indication of overall poor property maintenance, which does adversely impact value.

Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to persuade you, as a home appraiser, that their home is actually worth more than it appear?

It is my practice to ask the home owner to provide me with a list of all recent improvements, updates & cost, completed over the past 1-5 years. I ask them to point out any features they believe may increase the value of their home, & any features of their neighborhood that may have a positive impact on value. I ask them to point out any recent homes that have sold within the neighborhood that they believe is similar to their home. I explain that value is based on neighborhood market conditions (foreclosed or short sales) number of comparable sales, & recent active listings, marketing days of property & list/ sales price ratio. I inform all owners, I must base my final value on market facts, not feelings, personal opinions or hear say. "Just the facts Mam, just the facts" Sergeant Friday.

How much research about a neighborhood do you do prior to the home appraisal?

I determine were the property is located & how recent we have been in the area doing work. We look up the property on the public records & in the MLS data base. Based on this research we print out 10-15 comparable home data sheets. Once we have completed our site inspection we select 6-8 homes from the list that appear most comparable to the subject property, ride by to inspect these homes from the street & take a photo. Neighborhood data in terms of total closed sales, active listings, income data, property value ranges, schools, shopping, & employment are all available in our MLS data base.

How important is the neighborhood when it comes to valuing a home?

Location, location, location, the three rules of real estate, this has been true in the past, the present and will be in the future. Neighborhoods with well-maintained yards, homes, low/no crime rate (public Information), close to parks, good public schools, shopping centers with good stores & easy access to major centers of employment are on the wish list of all buyers & tenants, regardless of price range of the homes. Neighborhoods that meet all or most of these desires will have the greatness market demand & appeal with homes maintaining or increasing in value.

Where are some areas that if the homeowner just took some time to fix up it would drastically improve their home value?

Fresh paint, landscaping and cleaning of the garage are considered maintenance. To add value renovate or update baths, & kitchens. Add space, screen porches, deck, or enlarge master bedroom baths or family room.

How is the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

I. Jarvis Martin, SRA
State Certified General Appraisal
Martin & Company
3608 Mossdale Ave.
Durham, NC 27707

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