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Ellen Hoffman, author of The Retirement Catch-Up Guide interviewed independent Long Island real estate appraiser, Arleen E. Goscinski for the Newday Tips column compiled by Rick Green. The column appeared in the Act II section, page B3 on Saturday, July 19, 2003. The interview is reprinted below.
You've decided to move to a retirement community, but you're not sure how to gauge the value of homes in such communities. Arleen Goscinski, a real estate appraiser based in East Northport, has some hints:
Why should I bother with an appraisal?
If you're lucky enough to be able to pay cash, an appraisal may not be required. However, an appraisal can serve as a bargaining tool when you and the seller are trying to agree on a price. If you plan to have a mortgage, the lender will require an appraisal.
So how do you come up with a price?
Appraising a home where the unit is part of a condominium complex or homeowner association is similar to appraising a single-family residence. Recent sales of units -- inside and outside the development -- and their location, quality, condition and amenities, are considered and compared with the unit being appraised. Other factors we look at are whether maintenance fees are reasonable and competitive, the quality of project maintenance, how many of the units are rentals and restrictions (such as no pets or limited visits by children) that could affect marketability.
What about a home in a brand-new retirement community? How about if
it is still in the blueprint or construction stage?
Just because a unit is new does not guarantee that it's priced correctly. Only the market can do that. In this case, the appraiser would compare your unit to other new retirement projects or communities to ensure that the units are priced competitively. Construction costs and land value are important considerations, too. The appraisal itself can be done contingent on the future, satisfactory completion of the original plans and specs. The appraisal gives you some leverage if the home doesn't match the plans.
If the retirement community has a golf course, fitness club or the like, does an appraiser consider these?
Yes, as well as the ongoing costs they generate. If you want to retire in a gated community or one with extensive recreational facilities, the appraiser takes into account the added value and maintenance fees that are involved. It is important that the fees are reasonable for the amenities offered.
Arleen E. Goscinski, ASA, New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser
New York City, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk New York Real Estate Appraisals
149 Ketay Drive South East Northport, NY 11731-5031