One appraiser reports a driveway to be two cars in size. Another says the same driveway is six cars in size and another says the driveway is an eight-car driveway. They may all be correct! How so?
It really depends on how the appraiser is looking at it. Are they reporting the width of the driveway, the depth, or how many cars can fit on the driveway?
WHAT MOST APPRAISERS REFLECT
Most appraisers reflect the width of the driveway. Why? For one thing, many lenders prefer the driveway size to be reported this way. This is likely because it is less subjective. For instance, if the appraiser reports the driveway size based upon the number of cars that can fit on it, what kind of automobile are they using for their measurement? After all, a driveway may be able to accommodate a larger number of smaller cars than bigger ones.
Reporting the width of a driveway may still be a little subjective, but clearly not as much as the other options. If the appraiser is reporting the width, this can lead to other questions. For instance, some driveways may begin at the street as two cars wide, and then widen out near the garage to accommodate access to a wider garage. This is up to the appraiser to report and explain if necessary.
Typically, I report the width of the driveway where it begins at the street. Some may report the size differently. If the widening of the driveway adds value, that can all be explained in the report.
DOES DRIVEWAY SIZE IMPACT VALUE?
As is the case with nearly every aspect of a home, the answer is, it depends.
For instance, in high-density neighborhoods where street parking is limited, the size of the driveway could make a difference in value. On the other hand, in other high-density neighborhoods, many homeowners may use public transportation. If this is the norm for the neighborhood, the size of the driveway may not have any impact on value.
It really depends on the neighborhood and what the typical buyer in that neighborhood is looking for. I find that often, driveway size does not have any major impact on market value, as long as the driveway is typical for the neighborhood.
DOES THE MATERIAL THE DRIVEWAY IS MADE OF MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN VALUE?
I bet you know the answer to that question. It depends! In some neighborhoods, it does. Again, it all depends on what is common for the neighborhood and other similar homes.
In some neighborhoods, especially in newer developments where most driveways are concrete, having an asphalt driveway may be less appealing to buyers because it stands out. When an aspect of a home does not conform with other homes, that can have a negative impact on value.
What about gravel or tar & chip driveways? It depends on the area and the type of home, and what buyers expect. I wouldn’t assume that having a gravel driveway is automatically a negative aspect. Gravel driveways can be beautiful! Here is a video with some awesome gravel driveways.
In rural areas, it may make little if any difference in value. It may also depend on the climate. In colder weather climates, where snow is common in the winter, it can be more difficult to plow a gravel or tar & chip driveway compared to a concrete or asphalt driveway. And concrete and asphalt driveways are clearly easier to shoe-skate on. Hey, that may add value for some buyers, or at least their children.
As I mentioned earlier, it depends on what buyers expect for homes that are similar. For instance, buyers who are interested in a very large home that offers many upgrades, buyers may expect the driveway to be concrete, asphalt, or some other solid surface. On the other hand, buyers looking for a modest-sized home, like a small log cabin on acreage, may not expect a driveway with a solid surface.
How do appraisers determine whether differences in driveways have an impact on market value? The best way is by finding similar homes that have sold that have similar driveways. We may have to go back in time a little to find a comparable home, especially if the driveway of the home we are appraising is unique.
It would be a mistake to assume that the cost of installing a particular kind of driveway will always have a return on value.
If we have questions about what buyers expect, it is good to interview real estate agents who are familiar buyers in that area to see if they’ve noticed buyers’ reactions to differences in driveways. After all, they regularly converse with buyers and sellers more than appraisers do. They usually hear if a type of driveway is a turn-off to buyers. Tapping into real estate agents’ views can be incredibly helpful to appraisers and the public. I recommend visiting with several to get a better picture of what buyers are thinking.
If not careful, it can be easy to over-improve a driveway. They can be expensive, and the return on the investment is usually not dollar for dollar. Especially when the driveway is very large. However, a homeowner may decide to make the improvement anyway, despite it having a relatively poor return on value because it will make their life easier. And a beautiful driveway can have a big impact on curb appeal, which can have an impact on market value!
Speaking of fancy driveways, check out this video with some beautiful driveways!
You probably never thought you would be reading an article on driveways. Well, check that one off your bucket list. (I just did) I hope you enjoyed this article.
I know many will be taking some time off to visit with family and friends over the next month. Enjoy some well-deserved time off with your friends and family. May all the driveways you travel on be dry!
Thanks, as always, for reading my articles! If you would like to listen to my articles instead, check out my Cleveland Appraisal Blog Audio version.
Have a great weekend ahead!
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Here are some links to other articles I’ve enjoyed recently! I hope you will also…
Housing A Reversal In Direction – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller
Buckle up for next year’s housing market – Sacramento Appraisal Blog
Truth and Honesty – by Earl Nightingale #306 – The Brian Buffini Show (PODCAST)
Should You Turst An Algorithm For Your Home’s Value? – Birmingham Appraisal Blog
Market Slowing? Not So Fast! November Newsletter – DW Slater Company Blog
Fannie Requiring Appraisal Floor Plans Coming? – APPRAISAL TODAY
Do You Check Appliances During the Appraisal Inspection? – The Appraisal Update with Bryan Reynolds(PODCAST)
Getting to ‘No’ You – The Real Value Podcast
Ne Sketching Technology for Appraisers – The Appraiser Coach Podcast with Dustin Harris
But Are They Market Value? – The Appraiser’s Advocate (PODCAST)
Is Appraisal Obsolete? – George Dell’s Analogue Blog