Appraising, Helpful for FSBO, Helpful Info For Agents, Helpful to Home Owners

Be the Sommelier of Your Home

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My wife and I enjoy drinking wine. We have enjoyed wine tasting in vineyards from the east to the west coast. In addition to wine tastings, we enjoy wine pairing. To help educate a consumer on what wines pair best with different foods, many fine restaurants offer the services of a sommelier. What is a sommelier? They are trained and knowledgeable wine professionals.

A good sommelier usually has a sensitive palate that can help them determine a type of wine by their sense of taste or smell. They are also knowledgeable about different key wine regions. They even learn how to properly pour and serve wine. Yes, there are specific techniques for pouring and serving wine. It should be done with grace and finesses.

Today, wine lists can be rather extensive. Consumers desire to know a little about different wines so that they can make a selection that works well with their food. A sommelier will describe the characteristics of the wine in terms that tantalize one’s taste buds.

Here few examples of wine descriptions that you might hear from a sommelier…

Bright, with notes of citrus, green apple, and melon; subtle minerality and crisp acidity.

A fun wine with bright fruit and a crisp clean finish.

Bold dry red with ripe flavors of raspberry and palm; accented by hints of spice.

Deep blackberry and plum flavor harmonize with black pepper and American oak.

When I hear some of these descriptions, and then taste the wine, usually I can taste what is being described. But not always.  People tastes things differently. That’s one of the wonderful things about wine. There are many types of wines that appeal to different people. A person can also be influenced by the description of the wine, before it is consumed. What can we learn from this when it comes to having a home appraised?


In most states, it is illegal to try to influence or coerce an appraiser to appraise a home for a targeted amount. While that is the case, are there things that a homeowner or real estate agent can legally do to influence the appraiser’s opinion of a home? The answer is yes!

Just as a sommelier will provide a detailed description of the characteristics of a particular wine before serving it, a homeowner or agent can provide a detailed list of improvements and features that the home being appraised offers. Don’t bottle up your knowledge of your home! What kinds of things might a homeowner share?

Major improvements to the mechanical systems. Is the furnace or water heater new or newer? When was the electrical system last updated?

Provide information on improvements to the exterior. Was a new roof recently installed? How about new windows, siding or gutters? Are there any energy-saving features? If the kitchen or bathrooms have been updated or remodeled, how long ago? What was included in the renovation? Have there been any additions made to the home? Are there any upgrades that might not be readily observable to the appraiser as they walk through the property? In some homes, including luxury homes, a description of any specialized materials used on either the interior or the exterior is good to share.

What about the land? If the property is large, are there aspects of it that an appraiser might miss? Are there buildings on the property that may be out of site from the main dwelling? Is there some unique feature to the land that may add value? It might be something related to agricultural land or special timber that may have value. The property may offer water frontage that is not easily observable.

If the homeowner or real estate agent feels that some feature may have a positive impact on the market value and marketability of the home, by all means mention it to the appraiser. I always appreciate it when a homeowner provides me with a list of improvements. I also appreciate when homeowners point out things about their home and the property that I might not easily notice. It can be very helpful!


If you are having your home appraised, should you walk around the house with the appraiser, pointing out every detail? There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. After all, its your house, or if you’re an agent, it’s your listing. The only problem with that, at least in my experience, is that sometimes if the homeowner or agent is walking around with me pointing out every little detail, I may miss other details that I am looking for.

I recommend providing the appraiser with a list of the improvements. This can be verbally or on paper. I also recommend doing so at the beginning of the inspection. That way they can look at those specific features while walking around the home. If the home offers many features, I always appreciate a brief tour of the home in which the homeowner or real estate agent points out these salient features. What next?

When it comes to wine, it is advisable to let the wine “breathe”. That means opening the bottle and exposing the wine to air for a while, before consuming it. This can enhance the flavor of the wine.  When it comes to the appraisal inspection, after providing me with the special features of a home, I always appreciate it when the homeowner or agent allows me to “breathe” by allowing me to wander around the home on my own.  That way I can take time to view each room and make notes without being distracted. I can only speak for myself.  Other appraisers may have different preferences.


As mentioned earlier, people have different tastes. One type of wine may appeal to one person, while another person prefers a different type. This is also true when it comes to home features. Not all features appeal to every member of the market. The appraiser will have to determine whether the market is typically paying more for a specific feature, or not.

When it comes to wine, two different bottles of the same type, may have different subtleties in the taste. The same is true with homes. Ever home has its own subtle differences. When it comes to the different features of a home, an appraiser will not always make a specific adjustment for every little extra amenity. For instance, differences in exterior or interior materials are usually not adjusted for individually. However, the value of those things may be picked up in the description of the quality of the home, and any potential quality adjustments made in the appraisal report. Additionally, you will probably never see an appraiser make a specific adjustment for a new roof or siding. Does that mean that having a new roof or new siding will not add value to a home? No.

These things do add value. However, these types of features are more likely to be expressed in the description of the condition of the home and any condition adjustments that may be madein the appraisal report. Major improvements made to a home lower it’s effective age, which usually increases its value. So, a home may have a vintage from the 1900’s. However, it may have been remodeled to a degree that its effective age is only 10 years old.


As noted earlier, there is a technique that sommelier’s use when opening and pouring wine. It adds to the overall experience of the consumer, which can influence their perception of the wine.

What about the appearance of a home? Can it influence an appraiser? I am often asked by homeowners if having a perfectly clean and tidy home will impact my opinion of value? In my opinion, a home does not have to be perfectly clean and tidy. However, it should be reasonably clean. That being said, people have different views about what is clean.

When appraising a property, appraisers are viewing the property as a hypothetical sale. That means that we are going to consider what it would sell for in its current condition. If there are grease stains going up the kitchen wall and dirty hand prints on the walls throughout the house, or carpeting that looks like it has not been cleaned in many years, would that have a negative impact on what a potential buyer would pay for the home? I think it would. Since that is the case, this would also most likely influence the appraiser’s opinion of the market value of the home. A home does not have to be perfectly straightened up, nor does it have to be perfectly clean. But it should be relatively clean.

Well, I’m out of juice for this topic. I hope that you found this information to be helpful. Perhaps you picked up on my subtle, or not so subtle notes of humor. If my puns hurt a little, I recommend having a glass or two of your favorite vino, (if appropriate) and then re-reading this article. You might find that the puns go down a little smoother with notes of happiness at the end!

Thanks so much for reading my article! I appreciate your being here!Have a great day!

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You can also listen right here at Cleveland Appraisal Blog!

Here are some links to other articles and videos I enjoyed recently! I hope you will also…

Strolling While Burning Down The Housing Market – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller

Cobra’s Favorite Target is TAF Dave Bunton – Jonathan Miller on AppraisalBlogs

Crack in The Foundation? – Voice of Appraisal with Phil Crawford (PODCAST)

6 Reasons Appraisers Are NOT Needed – Birmingham Appraisal Blog

Not getting distracted by outlier sales – Sacramento Appraisal Blog

What Can Regression Do for You? – The Appraisal Report Webinar

What are the 10 Hottest Housing Markets in 2020? – Gynell Vestal of Consumer Home Value

Tax Records SqFt – Weird SFR Zoning – 5 ft. Wide Home – APPRAISAL TODAY

The Cosmic Cobra Breeding Farm? – George Dell’s Analogue Blog

Appraisal Modernization Part 2 – Can We Avoid Past Mistakes? – George Dell’s Analogue Blog

How To Challenge Your Appraisal – The APPRAI$AL Cast (PODCAST)

Stop that Tree Before it Gets Away! – The Appraiser’s Advocate with Time Andersen (PODCAST)
What Makes a Fully Executable Contract – The Approach Coach (PODCAST)

Add Histograms to Your Appraisal Took Kit – Yolo Solano Appraisal Blog

Why An Appraisal Is An Important Part of the Process When Buying or Selling A Home – Ask An Appraiser Blog

6 thoughts on “Be the Sommelier of Your Home”

    1. Haha! Thank you so much Joe! I will check out that podcast! Thanks for the suggestion. And you are very welcome. Your article was excellent! Looking forward to having a drink with you again in the future my friend! 😁 I wish we were back in Detroit. Good times!

  1. I only drink wine from the dollar store. What does that mean Jamie? Okay, I don’t. I actually don’t like wine. I will drink it once in a great while with my wife. Beer > Wine. 🙂

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