What does tandem mean? The idea of something being tandem literally means one thing that is behind another. What comes to your mind when you think of the word tandem? Sky diving, kayaking, a tandem bicycle? Perhaps a tandem unicycle? In these situations, there is one person in the front and one person in the back. In many of these situations, two people are uncomfortably close.
Are there things in real estate that are tandem? Yes! Let’s talk about a couple.
Occasionally, I will see a home with tandem bedrooms. Tandem bedrooms mean that you have to walk through one to get to the other. The picture below may help you to imagine what this is like. The room that has to be walked-through in order to get to the rear bedroom is less desirable. In this configuration the two bedrooms might also be said to be uncomfortably close. There is less privacy in the one bedroom because it must be walked through to get to the other bedroom. This is considered to be functional obsolescence.
This type of situation is most often found in older homes. I have seen this type of situation many times on the second floors of many bungalow or cape cod style dwellings I have appraised. Although, it can exist in any style home.
While this type of configuration is clearly less desirable than two bedrooms that are not tandem, this does not automatically mean that the market value of the rooms is less. In my experience, generally the market value of two tandem bedrooms is less than two bedrooms that are not tandem. However, I have seen times when the market was not paying less for tandem bedrooms. Whatever the case is, the appraiser has to do the research to make the proper determination as to how the market is reacting to this layout.
Sometimes I can find comparable sales with tandem bedrooms. It’s not always easy though. Real estate agents may count the tandem bedroom as a bedroom in their description of a home they are listing. However, they don’t typically mention that two of the bedroom are tandem in their comments. Probably because tandem bedrooms are generally less desirable to the market, and they are trying to attract buyers. I totally get that. I don’t have a problem with that. Real estate agents and appraisers have different goals. The agent is trying to sell the house and the appraiser is estimating the market value.
If I cannot find comparable sales with tandem bedrooms, generally I will only value the end room as a bedroom and the walk-through room as a den, study or sometimes even a hallway with a sitting area. These secondary rooms usually have less value than a bedroom. Why? If a family of four is looking for a home, they’re not looking for a home with four dens. They are probably looking for a home with four bedrooms. So, bedrooms are typically more valuable than other non-essential rooms in a home.
Another type of building component that I sometimes see as having a tandem layout are garages.
I appraised the home in the picture below last week. From a front view, it appears to only be a one car garage. However, it is actually two cars deep. This may be more desirable than a one car garage because you can fit two cars into it. However, if the only way to park two cars in the garage is to pull one in and then pull a second car behind it, this is also considered to be a functional obsolescence. Imagine having to do that for years. That would get old fast. This kind of two car garage will typically have a lesser market value than one in which two cars can park side by side.
Logically, one might assume that since a tandem two car garage is functionally inferior to a two car garage in which the spaces are side-by-side, this means that the market value is also less. Usually that is true, but not always!
Interestingly, in the case of this property, my research revealed that there were no major market difference between comparable homes with a one car garage vs. those with a two car garage. Sometimes the market defies logic. As stated earlier, this is generally not the case.
When appraising a home with a tandem garage, I look for other comparable homes with tandem garages. I also search for homes that may not be comparable but offer a tandem garage. If I can find one, I will either note it in my report commentary or add it to the appraisal grid, in the Sales Comparison Approach, as a supplemental sale and then make the appropriate adjustments. It helps to demonstrate the marketability of having such a configuration. I will even go back several years to try to find one.
In my experience with appraising homes with tandem garages, real estate agents are more likely to describe them as being tandem in their notes. So a word search for “tandem” in my MLS (Multiple Listing Service) sometimes makes it relatively easy to find homes with tandem garages.
What if your garage is not tandem but the garage door is a bit too small to fit two cars inside? The solution may be in the video below. Check out this creative way of fitting two cars into a garage. For the record, I would not personally recommend this and I do not endorse this product. But it is an interesting idea.
The lesson that we can learn from this is that when designs and/or layouts have functional issues, like tandem bedrooms and garages, while it usually has a negative impact on market value, this is not always the case. Appraisers have the responsibility and skills needed to do the research needed to determine what the market reaction is and to appraise accordingly. And things do change over time. What is acceptable to the market right now, may not be in the future and visa versa.
Thanks as always for reading my blog! Have a great day!
Here are some other articles and videos I enjoyed this week! I hope you will also…
A Third Wedding… – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller
Loud tile, fake trends & staying grounded – Sacramento Appraisal Blog
You’re In The Wrong Biz! – The Real Value Podcast
How Do Appraisers Calculate Price Per Square Foot? – Birmingham Appraisal Blog
Countdown to Appraiserfest 2018!!! Fannie Gone Wild! Again?? A New Skap Report!!! – Voice of Appraisal with Phil Crawford
Is It Possible to “Prove” an Adjustment? – George Dell’s Analogue Blog
Newz; Pyramid House; Comp Sharing?; Prove Adjustments – APPRAISAL TODAY