Real Estate Analysis and Commentary in [CITY]

September 4th, 2018 9:15 PM

When I studied in college, my management teacher would constantly remind us the answer was “It just depends”. This is a very wise statement that homeowners should take to heart when they go to place their home on the market, or have it appraised for a loan, or legal situation (divorce, death in the family, or bankruptcy) There are several key factors an appraiser must look at for an appraisal. If your home is the worst in the neighborhood done be surprised if it appraises lower than the last home that sold. A well educated appraiser will notice that your driveway is not concrete compared to every other home in the area, or that your windows are not replaced. (dual pane windows are now common and standard for most homes.) On that note, so will your potential buyers.


The market speaks and the market determines the value of your home. A well educated and trained appraiser will look at the quality of the construction, the condition of the property, the location of the property relative to the neighborhood and the overall market, and marketing factors.


One of my close friends said to me, I can’t figure out why we pay appraiser’s so much. He was in and out of my home in 15 minutes. As an appraiser I replied, appraisers ton of research, have to document everything they see, must prove how they get to their value, and then file and store documentation for the next 5 years regarding the appraisal. In addition, they have to drive in your area, take photos of the other homes, and possible interview agents or HOA’s. The real question should be, “are appraisers paid fairly?” Residential Appraisers have a license which means they are accountable to the State and pay huge insurance premiums to be bonded for the practice of appraisal.


So going back to value and the answer is “It just depends”. The value of a home just depends on many factors. An appraiser is paid to analyze those factors and provide homeowners a reasonable analysis that will lead to a “market value”. The market is exactly as stated. The current market, the market when your parent passed and you inherited their home, or the date that you and soon-to-be X spouse can agree on as the date for the analysis and a dissolution of marriage.


I live and work in the San Fernando Valley (Studio City, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood, West Hollywood, Westchester, Encino, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, West Hills, Chatsworth, Lake Manor, Simi Valley, Calabasas, Bell Canyon, Agoura, and Thousand Oaks. I know your neighborhood, I know the crazy cul-de-sacs, and I know how important value is in delicate situations like a divorce, or for a retrospective appraisal.    


Houses constructed more than about 30 years ago, which is a majority of homes in the San Fernando Valley, and Simi Valley were largely built to whatever code seemed fancy in the moment. It wasn’t until 1997 that the International Code Council published the first edition of the International Building Code, which has been updated and reissued every three years since. Before that, many homes were built professionally, but when it came time to remodel anything there were zero standards to hold anyone to. Basically you can kind of think of your home as a time capsule of the most terrifying variety.

Or, you know, it might be totally straightforward. There’s literally no way to know until you get started. So, are you ready?

No matter how well you think you know your house you don’t until you uncover what lays underneath the floors, and between the walls, and learn what’s in your attic. you should make sure you’ve got a respirator that can filter both lead paint and asbestos, as well as gloves and work clothing that will protect you from anything before you even think about getting started.

If your taking out walls, or making a change to the structure, you should have a structural engineer review the project before you start, not after the wall is gone. Most cities require a permit for this type of work, and you are best to be prepared to pay the fees and costs to do it correctly. Inside the walls you may find hidden metal, pipes and wiring.  Behind your kitchen’s wet wall, there’s a maze of pipes that snake around to nowhere. Your bathroom has random metal plates just stuck in the wall under some tiles. And, this wire… it goes nowhere. It should go without saying that you should always use tools that have non-conductive handles when you’re working in walls and behind objects that you can’t see through.

Surprise mold and pests. Surprise! You have mold and termites! Wait, that’s a bad thing… hopefully you had a home inspection and a termite inspection that would have found this problem ahead of time, but if you’ve owned your house a few years, pests and mold certainly could have popped up over time. Termites will likely require professional treatment. Mold is a mixed bag. Some molds are very dangerous for people to breathe, but others are just kind of always in the environment. Either way you will need remediation.

Dry rot is a sign that moisture has either been there or is there, and the first part is to determine where the moisture is coming from, the second part of the fix is to repair the damage to the effected area, and structure. This can simple or complicated. That why contractors can not give you the perfect price, because they don’t have any idea what they’ll find when they open walls.

Also, know that when you take flooring off like carpet, you may find a problem with your floor’s leveling. Carpet is the great cover up for unlevel floors; Solid surfaces show everything. The cost to prepare the floor may be much more than was originally estimated.

As an appraiser, we review homes for health and safety reasons.. It is common to look for signs of water intrusion that are severe, peeling paint, roofs that look like they are ready to be removed.  Appraisers are always checking for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.for almost any type of appraisal.   So, if you are contemplating remodeling and/or moving, having an appraiser give you a listing valuation can be an excellent choice, before you start to remove the carpet.  It may be in your best interest to move before you find out what is behind the wall. 

Posted by Pamela Evans on May 22nd, 2018 3:52 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog

What do you do when it comes to getting the best price for your home and knowing and understanding the value (or cost) of issues. . Most home owner will clean the home, clean their baseboards, and even go as far as removing unwanted clutter in the backyard, so the home “shows” well. The challenge is selling your home when you continually ignore big warning signs that there is a problem or better yet, leave everything dated and still expect the same price as the neighbor who has upgrade the home inside, inside the walls, and outside.


Professional maintenance is most likely the solution, but so many times Realtor’s ignore the signs because they want you to sign their contract. They figure if there is enough demand, there will be someone who will buy the home and then it’s their problem not the sellers. Whether acting as a Realtor or an Appraiser it is beyond my responsibilities to be knowledgeable about all types of construction issues, but over time their things that make a Realtor or An Appraiser stop and take note.

Some times these issues have already been handled by the homeowner, they just forget how important it is to paint the ceiling, if you’ve had a roof leak and repaired it. Or let a potential buyer know you’ve added drains, when they see cracks in the concrete for a home that is on the bottom of a sloped mountain.


Warning signs that I’ve seen as an Appraiser and Realtor include the following:

(This list is not a complete list, I am sure other Appraisers and Realtors could additional items.


  • Electrical box is missing cover plate.
  • Some Electricians may tell you need a whole new panel which costs $$$ or you may call around and find an Electrician who can replace the plate for $ dollars less.
  • Sidewalk that stick out of the ground, so high you can trip on it, typically caused by tree roots, but not always. This situation can be costly if it’s near a pool. The concrete cracking is a sign of movement. Many times it is typical for the area but it can be more than that. It can be moisture shifting a pool, not enough drainage, or tree roots. Matching concrete is impossible. In the case of the tree roots, you will need to cut the roots, remove them, replace the entire piece of concrete, which will most likely not be a perfect match which can lead to a much bigger patio remodeling project and more money than expected. Or in the case of the pool, it can cost over $30,000 dollars to replaster, redo concrete, and add in drainage so that the patio will function as it is suppose too.
  • If you are tripping in a backyard, look for the cause? It’s most likely gonna cost some money to fix it.
  • When you walk the home you can feel a slope. This does not always mean there is much wrong with the home, other than the owner’s may not have had the home leveled when they installed the floors, however it can also be a BIG warning sign that there is a foundation issue.
  • Water spots on a ceiling. This may be a sign of an old leak or an active leak. It should be investigated. If you are the seller, I would recommend if you know the roof was fixed or replaced, be sure to spend the $$ and have the ceiling repainted. Seeing leak signs is a big turn-off to most buyers.
  • Peeling paint is a warning sign on the outside that the home may not have been properly maintained, and if it’s on the inside look for water, mold, and other signs of unexpected issues. Interiors typically do not peel.. unless there is moisture (water) involved.
  • Giant trees which may be appealing to a buyer for purposes of shade, and should be evaluated based on their locate and appeal. Getting one tree trimmed can set you back a few dollars, but a ton of trees gets expensive fast.
  • Roof that has waves in it. It looks like a roof, but its just about to call it a day. The average roof in Los Angeles is at least $6,000 to $10,000 dollars and that is for a no frills version ( no tile, no extra ply wood, 15 year life roof 1600 sq ft.) Prices vary and go up and up. It can get expensive.
  • Look for asbestos products underneath the flooring or hidden in closets. You may find the deep dark secrets of a home by looking it’s closets. Especially if the home was built before 1987. The cost of having asbestos removed from a home can be much more than expected, and with all the new lead based paint laws and more.. if you think it’s going to be easy to may not be smiling when the contractor hands you his estimate.
  • Your home has tons of walls and there is no way to remove them without huge expenses. Some homes are easy to remodel, others are not. Plumbing is challenging and costly to move in a concrete foundation; wall removal can be extremely expensive as well. If your neighbor’s home sold for $$$ and yours isn’t it could be because the neighbor spent a fortune remodeling. In Los Angeles there are homes that have been rebuilt from the ground up and they go for a premium price. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get the same price for your home if its old and outdated.
  • Muddy ground can be a sign of a drainage issue. This is usually fixable but can cost $ for drainage. Sometimes it's not fixable if a patio has been installed wrong, it can be replaced but the cost just went form under $1000.00 to way more than $1000.00
  • A gushy spot in the ground under a laminate floor. This can be a sign of a cracked drain line in a home especially if it's when the drains come together in the living room.   There may be mold, and all types of stuff under the floor.  Please take it seriously. The cost to repair get extremely expensive.  You may have to replace flooring, molding, paint, and deal with mold.   All those repairs can add up.  

If you are the seller and see any of the above items these maybe the reason you’re not obtaining the price you’ve listed your home for. These are all items a professional appraiser will notice when valuing a home and a buyer may too.


Take note, and review your home for more than dust, and you will be a successful home seller who experiences less frustration with the repairs requests process when you get into a sale contract And, if you are a buyer take note before you buy a home. You will be much happier when the bills to live in the home don’t become the only thing you think about. 

For any questions regarding residential home values be sure to vislt www.  I'm Pamela Evans, Certified Residential Appraiser, License No. 3002198.  I work predominantly in Ventura County and Los Angeles County.  


Understanding what a health and safety risk is, is the first step to ensuring that you don't have to pay an additional fee to have the appraiser come back when your home lender requests a re inspection.    The questions that homeowners should ask themself, are as follows?  If its a loose wire or an open electric box? (It's a health and safety issue)  If there is a big whole in wall or a big stain from a leak? (It may be considered a health and safety risk.) If it's something an appraiser will question it may may be a health and safety risk.)  If a door leads to a drop and its not safe then it may be considered an health and safety issue, if there is a big crack in the stucco, the wall, or the ground in a room shows signs of a foundation crack, if there is signs of mold in a corner of the garage, or the cats odor is very over bearing; these all may be considered a health or safety risk.    It is the job of the appraiser to identify anything that is readily visible or observable.   There are so many things that can or may be considered observable, and sometimes classified as a  health and safety risk, which is up to each individual appraiser's discretion.

So the easiest way to ensure your home is ready for an appraiser is to walk through it, is if you were an appraiser..  If you see any of the things that were described above or you see something that looks out of place, then know the appraiser will notice it too.  These things that are "observable" and may be required by the lender  to be identified because they impact "value".    Luckily, not everything is a health and safety risk, however simply putting on electrical caps as required by law, or fencing areas that maybe unsafe, can save you your loan and the cost of having to have an appraiser come back twice after the safety issue is fixed. Many lenders will require  all health and safety risks be addressed prior to them agreeing to loan on a property.  If you have mold in a corner, rotten eaves, an empty pool with no fence, or you never repaired the ceiling after you had the roof replaced, besure to make the repair, prior to having the appraiser over, or be prepared to explain it. 
A loan is easy to qualify for, as long as you make sure your home is ready to go for the appraiser, and  of course, you've pre-qualified with the lender.

As noted earlier, an appraiser is required to report any items that may impact value, and know the appraiser is required to look in every room in the house, so no hiding things. Your preparation, your personal walk-through, and consideration of what may be considered a health and safety risk will make you ready for the appraisal and the appraiser when he/she arrives.  

Posted in:General and tagged: Appraisal Tios
Posted by Pamela Evans on January 28th, 2018 12:19 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog
January 12th, 2018 11:10 AM
Understanding Calabasas is key to the valuation process.  Calabasas and the 91302 zip code is home to many gated communities including,  The Oaks, The "Double" Oaks, Mountain Gate, Mountain View, Hidden Hills, Westridge, Eastridge, Bellagio, Calabasas Hills Estates, Calabasas Park Estates, and more.       

The Story for 2017 Calabasas is the price of Condos, with the newest complex located where the old Calabasas Inn,  the highest sale of a single condo posted in the MLS was $1,555,515 sold in 2017, which is an all time high for Condo sales in Calabasas.  The other end of the spectrum, smaller condos, are located within blocks of the new complex are now selling at over $400,000 for 2 bedroom 2 bath units.  This shows the great variations in values in Condo Complexes in Calabasas.  There are vast differences in sale prices in many of Calabasas Communities.   

Also in 2017, the story shows by sale prices that homes in Mulwood, Lost Springs, and other non gated communities clearly sell at a lower price point, then homes in the Parkway.  It should be noted that all homes except for a small amount near the Golf Course are ALL located in Gated Communities in the Parkway.  Hidden Hills, another gated community had over 35 sales in 2017, and Calabasas had 242 in total home sales in both gated and none gated communities.  As is to be expected in a family-centered communities sales in the last quarter of the year are much slower than in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the year. 1

Lastly so you can see the whole picture 1/4 of the Single Family Residences sold for less than $1,000,000. Over 1/2 the Single Family Residences sold for between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 dollars, and the last 1/4 of sales sold above $2,000,000 with the top sale at a price point of over $8,000,000 with 10,000+ sq ft in the prestigious Oaks Community within the Double Gates.  

As we all prepare for Real Estate Sales in 2018, the market has slightly frozen in reaction to the new tax codes, there are currently very few homes for sale. 2018 will tell its own story as the market adjusts to the new tax laws, and slightly higher interest rates.   

For more information about Pamela Evans, MBA, AR, Certified Residential Appraiser, or for a free quote for an appraisal call (818) 216-0591. She specializes in Dissolution of Marriage Appraisals, Mediation Appraisals,  Date of Death Appraisals for Trust Distributions and Tax Savings.   Retrospectives and Current Market Value Appraisals are available services to meet your needs. 

<div align="center"><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" width="500" border="0" /></a></div>

Posted by Pamela Evans on June 3rd, 2017 8:55 AMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog
May 18th, 2017 10:13 PM

Calabasas Highlands- A Hidden Treasure For Some

Calabasas Highlands is a small area that is friendly, and surround by outstanding views, and mountains.  This area was created before Calabasas became a city, and therefore it is unique and much similar to homes located off of Mulholland Hwy than homes that are in gated communities.  The homes are predominantly custom, with a few builders that built serveral blocks at a time.  Some are two stories, some are three stories, some have steep hillsides behind them with views in the front, others have magnificent Warner Center Views off of every room, and some have no views or backyards at all.

Calabasas Highlands is a mountainous area with a stream very close by.  It is next to a ton of open space, hiking trails, and walking areas that feel like your miles away from Los Angeles, and yet it is a two minute drive to Gelsons Market and Topanga Canyon for everything you want or need.  It was originally created with most homes being built with septic systems, however in the nineties there were sewers installed. (FYI, not everyone is connected and it is one of the first questions a buyer should ask about if considering a purchase in the area.

According to the City of Calabasas Planning Department there is an agreement for water between the Las Virgenes Water District for the area.  Another difference for much of this area, is it has many private roads, yet they are not gated, and the city cleans all the streets on a regular basis.   The lots are predominantly small at approximately 5000-6000 square feet, and current law only allows homes of 2300 sf or smaller on a single lot.  Double sized lots (10,000-13,000 sf) are allowed to be built up to 3500 sf under current building code.   There are no sidewalks, but plenty of dogs being walked in the area.  The area appeals to professionals, and others who love the mountains.  It is very close to services, schools, and the beach.  It is no more than 20-30 minutes to Malibu from this location.  It is also easy to get to Topanga Canyon to go towards Santa Monica or the 101 Freeway if this a requirement for your commute.  For many it’s a great fit, and an affordable entry point into the Calabasas Community & Las Virgenes School District.

Keep in mind when valuing property, some of the land is owned but not developed.  Therefore ensure you’ve researched the lots next to any home you may purchase. Two other interesting facts about the area is it has its own neighborhood (voluntary) association, and a small park at the Summit. As you can imagine, the area lends itself to very eco-friendly people and creative types who enjoy the feeling of being in the mountains and being able to quickly access Los Angeles, Santa Monica or Malibu when needed.  

Posted by Pamela Evans on May 18th, 2017 10:13 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog
What a wonderful place to  spend a friday or saturday night in Newbury Park California. (Thousand Oaks, California)   Jeanettes edelweiss.  It's a place that you can call home  - a restaurant with a casual atmosphere and music!    The food is Austrian and the Black Forest Cake is amazing!   If you need to read more reviews look at their Yelp  reviews. Its one of my  favorite picks for taking friends out.    As an appraiser, I value many things, and I embrace a fun evening out, with great food and music in the Conejo Valley.   Definitely worth the drive!

Posted by Pamela Evans on March 13th, 2017 1:58 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog

Sellers are hearing that prices are up and that there is limited inventory.  This may be true in Bel-Air but it may not be true in Woodland Hills or Agoura Hills in the Los Angeles area.  Therefore before you set the price for your home be aware of some of most common mistakes sellers make when they set unrealistic expectations for the sale price and market value.

Common Seller Mistakes:

One of the biggest pricing mistakes sellers make is to take a per square foot figure from another sale down the street and use that figure to price their property.  Reality is there isn’t just one price per square foot figure that applies to every single property in a neighborhood. Keep in mind smaller homes tend to have a much higher price per square foot. It’s a matter of size, such as buying a small, medium, or large soft drink. The starting price may be a $1.59 for a small drink 12 oz. drink ($0.13 per oz.), and $2.29 for 24 oz. for the large ($0.95 per oz.)  The price per ounce is larger for the smaller drink.   My advice is to pay attention to price per square foot, but don’t forget to look at actual similar sales in the neighborhood, that have similar locations, gross living areas,  views, and functionality.

Remember the difference between “comps” and sales: if your home is an orange, what have other oranges sold for in the neighborhood? Don’t price your orange according to what apples have sold for.   Don’t consider sales for homes in gated neighborhoods against your home that is in a mountain area with narrow roads that is hard to get to because they are in the same zip code.

It is typical to think all sales are “comps”, but there is a difference between properties that are actually comparable and ones that are simply sales. It’s easy to get distracted by a few high sales in the neighborhood, but if they are nothing like your property, then don’t give them much weight and pay the most attention to homes that are actually similar to yours. 

Also keep in mind, that seller can ask anything they want.  Many realtors are willing to list a property for anything, therefore an informed seller should be pay more attention to sold properties than currently listed properties.  In Calabasas, I have seen a home listed at $1,800,000 in the Classic area of Calabasas with 3400 sq. ft. on a large lot which sold for $1,610,000 after 331 days on the market.  The owner was from outside the area.  Homes less than a mile away with large lots sell for $1,800,000 to 2,200,000 all the time, however they are in an exclusive gated community not in the Calabasas Classics.   If you are not realistic the market will let you know.  If you choose to wait for the “one buyer who can afford to pay all cash.” Just know it can be a long wait, or better yet never materialize. 

And lastly, if you have been doing your own construction and there are no permits, this may hamper your sale or your buyer’s appraisal and market value of the property.   Adding rooms without permits can have an "unexpected" impact on an appraisal.  If it is at all possible go get the building permit.  If you can’t or are not willing to, be sure to disclose everything in your transfer disclosure paper work, and in the MLS.    

Pamela Evans, MBA, Licensed Residential Appraiser, focuses on serving clients and for Estate Planning, Trust Appraisals, and General Evaluation aka Market Value Appraisals, Divorce Appraisal, Date of Death Appraisals, Probate Appraisals, Retrospective Appraisals and Mediation Appraisals. 

Contact Information: Pamela Evans
 (818) 216-0591


You've decided to sell, and now your realtor comes to you to say, " your home is worth less than you thought. The biggest discrepancy is the square footage of the home."  Is this a typical situation?  ''Yes!'"   So what can a homeowner do to make sure there home is accurate in public records so that they can ask top dollar for their home.

Step (1)  Contact your local building and safety department, (some keep excellent record on line, like Los Angeles City's website, Los Angeles Building and Safety), other smaller cities like Simi Valley or Calabasas require you to walk in to look at permits. 

Step (2) reconcile your permits to the square footage of your home.   If you can not do it easily, or you prefer to have a professional handle this, contact a Residential Appraiser and for a fee he/she will arrange a date  to measure your home for you and confirm the square footage.

Step (3) Set your sale price based on your research.

The actual square footage can make a difference in value it can increase or decrease the value of the property by thousands.  Additionally, most homeowners are not aware that if the Assessors states that your property is 2000 square feet, and you say its 3000, you are more than likely only insured for 2000 square feet.  In a fire, they may only cover the permitted square footage.  

What then is a homeowner to do when they realize that there home has 100's of square feet not included in permits?  

According to a local Building and Safety Inspector,  a homeowner can request to legalize the additional square footage, If it meets all local building and safety codes, and from that point on would be  considered "permitted space".  (If you decide to go this route, I would recommended you contact a contractor that specializes in retrofitting for permits, prior to contacting your local Building and Safety Department. Be sure, the space can be legalized, if it can't don't move forward and be prepared to sell  your home and disclose unpermitted construction.   If it can be permitted, you have just improved your chances of getting a higher price for your home, even if it cost you a few dollars.   

 Alternatively if you have no interest in the hassles of looking up your permits,measuring and/or contacting Building and Safety,  you can disclose it is not permitted and be prepared as the seller to adjust the price as appropriate for the market value of a home with unpermitted construction.

Note:  recently, a court decision discussed disclosing square footage issues.  See sq foot fraud to learn more about the court decision in 2015 regarding disclosure of square footage issues. 

Invest wisely in your home, and know that obtaining a building permit can make a huge difference when you go to sell.