Idyllwild Real Estate and Community News

The Idyllwild community never ceases to amaze me, I just came back from Idyllwild school where every Friday artist from the community teach art classes.  I woke up to an email asking for help to mix cement for the third graders to make stepping stones for the school garden. When I arrived and there were about 10 volunteers, parents, grandparents, community members and artists.  It is no wonder that our school ranks the highest in the district, we have a community that cares about our kids! When talking to prospective real estate buyers in Idyllwild I am always quick to point out what a great community we have in Idyllwild.  Once a year the school has a thank you luncheon for the parent volunteers and there are usually about 80 volunteers being recognized and we have just under 200 students in the school.  In other news, real estate is booming!  We have had 50 closings to date, about 20% higher than last years real estate sales at this time. Now is a great time to buy or sell real estate in Idyllwild.

11-11-2015  Well the weather is changing in Idyllwild, the leaves are falling and the nights are getting colder. Time for part time residents to turn off the water and drain the pipes to avoid freezing and potentially expensive repairs!

As always the Idyllwild community is just that, a community of people who get things done, the Idyllwild Halloween parade and carnival last week is another example of what a great place to live Idyllwild California is!  It is no surprise that people bring their kids up from other communities to participate.  Next will be the community tree lighting right after Thanksgiving.

Idyllwild has had a great year for home sales this year with 188 closings so far this year, I expect that 2016 will be another strong year if you are considering putting your Idyllwild home for sale now is the time to contact me and get the ball rolling. There are only 88 Idyllwild homes for sale as of right now, it is a great time to sell your home in Idyllwild!

March 4, 2016

Choosing an Agent


First Step for Choosing the Right Idyllwild Real Estate Agent 

Choosing Your Idyllwild Real Estate Agent: Easy First Step 

Helping Idyllwild Real Estate Agents “Stock their Shelves” 


When interviewed following the successful close of their home’s sale, a convincing majority of homeowners say that one of the most decisive factors came early on: choosing the right real estate agent. The reasons given go further than simply chaperoning the business transaction. The right agent does more than pare down the stress level that can creep into the process at any moment; does more than handle the numerous contractual issues that need to be addressed before a sale can reach a tidy conclusion. 

The right agent lets you rest easy, knowing that your listing is getting the full energy and professional attention it deserves. When the choice is the right one, you know that your property is on display 24-7—being presented to the potential buyers most likely to buy.

Unless you inherited the property, you probably have clear memories of the Idyllwild agent who was there when you originally bought. If it’s a positive image of a friendly, knowledgeable professional who tackled the details with skill and energy—and who seemed to make everything somehow easier than you expected—then that someone is sure to have the inside track.    

If that’s not the case (or if enough time has passed that he or she is no longer available), you’ve got to choose your agent. But rather than letting the impending task loom as an arduous undertaking, take heart! Consider that you are in the proverbial catbird seat (whatever that is). Just look at it from my perspective, as a real estate agent in Idyllwild.

Every Idyllwild real estate agent is engaged in a sort of retail business. The homes for sale are our “products” on the shelf. Now, although it’s true that every real estate agent in the area is able to expose their buyer clients to the entire “inventory”—including the other Idyllwild agents’ homes for sale—it’s much more desirable when our own “shelves” are stocked with great properties. 

That means that your home is in strong demand among Idyllwild real estate agents, and most of them will do their best to make hiring them as painless as possible. If you have some direct questions you’d like to ask (but would normally be too polite to do so), you needn’t hesitate. “What homes weren’t you able to sell last year…and why not?” is a good one. So is, “Can you give me the contact information for three recent clients?”

The right real estate agent—the one you want—won’t make you feel as if you’ve posed an awkward question. A great agent will be able put you at ease in any situation. If he or she fails to do so, that’s not the right agent! (and finding that out means your interview succeeded).


Selecting the right Idyllwild real estate agent to sell your property is the logical first step because it makes all the following steps so much easier. I hope you’ll include me on your list of the most likely candidates…and give me a call to prove why you should!

March 1, 2016

ABCs of Selling Real Estate


The New ABCs of Selling Real Estate in Idyllwild

Selling Idyllwild Real Estate has a New ABC

Selling Real Estate in Idyllwild Gets a New Sales Alphabet 


Today, selling real estate in Idyllwild (or Kalamazoo, for that matter) has been transformed in important ways. In others, it’s remained pretty much as it was 50 years ago. Let’s start with the changes:

  • The buyers’ ability to identify properties has undergone a revolution. Fifty years ago, the process of hunting for and comparing available homes was constrained by the availability of information. Selling real estate in Idyllwild involved getting the word out, largely through printed media. Newspaper and magazine advertisements drove buyers’ awareness—or else the agent’s Xeroxed listing sheets. That was about it (in addition to driving around, looking for ‘For Sale’ signs).
  • Buyer’s ability to readily compare homes has likewise been vastly improved. ‘Vastly improved’ is an understatement: anyone selling Idyllwild real estate today knows that their listing will be instantly available online, including a wealth of detail formerly only available to interested buyers who obtained a copy of the listing sheet. Now it’s all there on their laptop or smartphone screen, side-by-side with every other comparable property’s. When the drill-down data (items like ‘cost per square foot’ ‘projected mortgage payment’) is instantly available for side-by-side comparisons, selling real estate without being able to demonstrate genuine value is an impossibility.
  • Today financial visibility—in terms of the viability of a proposed purchase—is no longer anything like the mystery it was in times past. The process of filling out a mortgage application and having to wait interminably for the bankers’ next questions has yielded to the realities of a considerably more competitive arena. Online rate ‘locks’ can actually happen (although the actual verification of same remains a process subject to the more traditional pace).

These fundamental shifts in the buying and selling of Idyllwild real estate make the whole process much more efficient for buyers and sellers. By improving the ease and likelihood of making the best match for each, it also builds buyer confidence through transparency. 

Of course, there still are elements that remain largely unchanged. One is the need for sellers to document and put forward their property’s selling points above and beyond their listing’s spare mechanical data points…that is, to bring creative marketing experience to the table. Selling real estate, like every other kind of selling, is at its best when it connects with buyers by firing their imaginations in positive and uplifting ways. Another is the continuing need to make sure all the documentation is letter-perfect: i’s dotted and t’s crossed.


There once was an adage about the ABC’s of selling: “Always Be Closing!” Today, making lIdyllwild real estate transactions happen isn’t about bringing pressure to bear on anyone! It’s supplying the service of aiding and abetting our newly transparent marketplace. My own “ABC” works out to be more like, “Always Be Contributing!”—a corny way of saying my job is to help Idyllwild’s buyers and sellers make the best match reliably and effortlessly. The first step is to give me a call!     From the team at Forest Realty in Idyllwild California!

Feb. 29, 2016

Spring Selling Season

Heads-Up! Idyllwild’s Spring Selling Season is Here!

The Idyllwild Spring Selling Season Couldn’t Wait…   

Spring Selling Season in Idyllwild Can’t Wait Any Longer!


Idyllwild’s spring selling season is underway!

Okay—it’s understandable if that seems like a somewhat premature announcement, but it is verifiable from any number of sources. Never mind that this year, spring doesn’t officially arrive in Idyllwild until March 20…but that’s only what astronomers say (and they can’t even decide whether Pluto is a planet). Meteorologists take issue with them, anyway. It’s always March 1 as far as meteorologists are concerned. But this year’s Godzilla El Niño has made everything they say subject to revision. And anyway, we’re talking about real estate—and when it comes to real estate, spring is here already! 

Now, it may be true that if you look on one of those bank calendars you got in the mail last December, it’s likely to tell you that we’re weeks away from the change in seasons. And depending on what the latest weather seems to be doing, winter may seem to be hanging on for a while longer. 

But nimble Idyllwild real estate watchers know they can’t believe everything they read (or see happening outside in the garden).  Cherry blossoms can’t call the shots when it comes to announcing Idyllwild’s spring selling season, any more than tulips can. And that groundhog can stay in his den, for all the difference it makes to home sales.

This is fact: according to the real estate industry’s calendar, the spring selling season—in Idyllwild and everywhere else across the nation—has definitely sprung! 

Supporting evidence has flooded in from everywhere. For example:

  • Home Depot just announced it is hiring 80,000 workers for spring. These are the folks who work the cash registers [nowadays, shouldn’t they be called “plastic card registers?”] and help us wander up and down the aisles, looking for things we can’t describe exactly. Without them, spring wouldn’t be the same. With them, spring is clearly underway.
  • Internet real estate behemoth Zillow came out advising that everybody who is thinking about taking advantage of the spring selling season should start preparing their property “NOW”—and that was two weeks ago!  
  • CNBC put it in real time: “Spring housing season kicks off with record short supply” was their headline. If CNBC says so, who could argue?
  • Baseball teams have hightailed it into camp. That should end the discussion…


These harbingers of the spring selling season should certainly mean more than robins hopping across lawns or yellow and pink Peeps appearing on grocery store shelves. And even for any overly cautious souls who decide to wait for the bank calendars’ say-so, taking full advantage of the spring selling season in Idyllwild necessarily calls for advance preparation. A strong way to start is by giving me a call!   

Feb. 28, 2016

For Sale Signs

Today, Idyllwild Homes for Sale have Two Levels of ‘Curb Appeal’

A Fresh Perspective Helps Beef Up Curb Appeal  

Idyllwild Homes for Sale Capitalize on First Impressions


The way the ‘curb appeal’ phenomenon applies to a Idyllwild home for sale is explained simply enough. Like the packaging on a store shelf item, its mission is to break through the competition—to strike a responsive chord with potential buyers. 

That is the goal, but no Idyllwild  home that’s up for sale can possibly ‘bat a thousand’ when it comes to curb appeal, since buyers start out with differing mental images of what constitutes an ideal home. For some, it’s a well-kept colonial; for others, a clean-lined contemporary. Today, most house hunting begins with the online Idyllwild  listings. Each offering is introduced via its exterior glamor shot…making it possible to form quick impressions of the whole gamut of properties for sale in Idyllwild . Those pictures comprise today’s first pass at curb appeal—the photographic kind. For homes that pass that first hurdle, the next test is the three-dimensional, pull-up-to-the-curb experience. Making the most of that first impression can shape all that ensues. 

A survey of hundreds of landscaping and photography “tips” for maximizing curb appeal for the most part confirms what common sense would tell us anyway: cut the grass; plant more flowers or shrubbery; keep everything neat and clean…and one even recommended “planting more shade trees—certainly the least practical ‘tip’! 

Of course, as showings become imminent, every homeowner will hose off the walkway, sweep the porch, broom out the cobwebs. But before that stage—before the listing photography is done, it’s a worthwhile exercise to step back and take in the overall impression that first-time visitors are going to get. Step out front—then take the same walk your visitors will be making, but seeing it the way they will. 

If the siding isn’t really fresh-looking, it’s worth considering whether a professional power wash or exterior paint touchup might make a substantial improvement. Getting rid of even traces of grime can subtly turn an ‘okay’ impression into a strongly positive one. A fresh doormat is a simple addition; likewise, scouring or replacing tarnished or pitted hardware (like address numerals, doorknobs, locks and door knockers) can subtly transform many a first impression. 

When you allow yourself to abandon your everyday perspective, fresh ideas and energy have a way of materializing. Putting your house up for sale is also infinitely easier when you have an experienced Idyllwild  real estate professional helping out from the very start—giving me a call early on is the first step!


From the team at Forest Realty in Idyllwild California!

Feb. 23, 2016

Homeowner Tax Deductions

Homeowner Tax Deductions: Real Estate’s Ace in the Hole

For Idyllwild Homeowners, Tax Deductions Add Major Value      

Homeowner Tax Deductions: Major Part of the Value Equation


Sure, even the idea of homeownership is appealing for all of the traditional emotional and lifestyle reasons. Having proprietary control over your family’s center of operations is a goal for most Idyllwild residents—just as most of us would consider it a necessary evil if professional obligations make frequent moves unavoidable. Travel may be broadening, but most rolling stones (no matter how moss-less) eventually hanker to settle down.

But aside from the lifestyle aspects, another major advantage to settling down and owning your home gets its turn in the limelight at least once a year. This advantage is anything other than abstract. The time of year is April 15, when the concrete financial benefits are tallied up in the very welcome form of Idyllwild  homeowner tax deductions.

Tax advice is not my specialty—for that, you should always defer to your qualified financial advisor, whose full time job it is to do all that’s humanly possible to keep track of the ever-changing Federal Tax Code. But even non-specialists know that some of the most beneficial provisions in the Code’s 75,000 pages do relate to the range of significant homeowner tax deductions. 

In the National Association of Realtors’ periodical houselogic, writer Dona DeZube recently surveyed some of the major ones—tax tips that deserve to be investigated by any Idyllwild  homeowner who will soon be charting out their own mid-April strategies. 

The list was headed by the most obvious one, the mortgage interest deduction, which applies to interest paid on a loan secured by the place you live in. That doesn’t have to be a house—it could also be a trailer or a boat. As long as you sleep and cook in it, if it also has toilet facilities, interest paid for its purchase falls into the category. 

Likewise, there is the prepaid interest deduction. Prepaid interest (aka “points”) you pay in when you take out a mortgage or refi can usually be deducted in the year it is originated. An exception is when you refinance and use the proceeds for other than home improvements, in which case the deduction is spread out over the life of the loan. If you refinance again, it gets a little more complicated (may be time to ring up that qualified advisor again).

Another hefty deduction is the one for Idyllwild  property taxes you have paid. If your mortgage lender required you to insure repayment through private mortgage insurance (PMI), if your income is less than a set amount, the premiums may be fully deductible (otherwise, a reduced deduction will apply). Even more complicated rules apply to government insurance premiums (qualified advisor time).

More homeowner tax deductions can be applicable, too, with varying degrees of complication—particularly those which relate to Idyllwild  vacation homes. And there are also tax credits for things like energy-efficient home systems.

The bottom line deductibility of many aspects of homeownership can be a major reason why April 15 gets many Idyllwild  renters to do some serious examination of their residential futures. I’m here to help with any of your own real estate plans!   


From the team at Forest Realty in Idyllwild California 

Feb. 15, 2016

Location Location Location

In Idyllwild, Location, Location, Location! Remains Important

Location, Location, Location! Can Have Differing Meanings

Ways that Idyllwild Location, Location, Location! Affects Value   


“Location, location, location!” is one of the few proclamations which needs no verb, no adjective, no preposition to fully communicate its message. Everyone in Idyllwild understands—and usually agrees with—its meaning: The location [of something] is all-important.

In the commercial context, it used to mean “your store better be situated somewhere that gets a lot of the right kind of traffic.” Today, in the same context, that “traffic” can be clicks on the web rather than auto or foot traffic. Either way, location, location, location! stands for a truism that’s inarguably valid.

What’s interesting about the Idyllwild location, location, location! axiom when it’s invoked in a residential real estate context is how true it remains—though for different reasons. When it comes to buying or selling an Idyllwild home, location isn’t vitally important because of its being visible or easy for prospective buyers to find. This meaning of “location” points to a property being more or less desirable for a variety of reasons:

  • Accessibilityoffers easy access to Idyllwild places of business, recreation points, etc.
  • Inaccessibility—provides an oasis of privacy
  • Position—offers superior orientation: for instance, receives more (or less) sunshine.
  • Geography—takes advantage of superior land features: for instance, is on a hilltop, by a stream, etc. 
  • Exclusivity—it’s in a respected, physically safe neighborhood, home to successful families
  • Community—offers desirable schools, lower tax rates, well-kept parklands and the like. The Brookings Institution finds that living near a high-scoring school can increase a home’s value by $100,000—or more!

Needless to say, another facet of location, location, location! in Idyllwild is how important it can be in dollars and cents. It isn’t just that houses are listed for different prices depending greatly on their neighborhoods and even locations within the same neighborhoods, but the ease of buying and selling can also be location-dependent. The “comps”—estimated values assigned by reports of sales of similar properties—are assembled taking into account how near or far they are, as well as the characteristics of their neighborhoods. 

For the most part, people tend to agree on the value of those location, location, location! characteristics—but in case you aren’t one of the crowd, the financial repercussions can be noteworthy. If, for instance, your ideal degree of privacy makes you value a home that’s considered to be too far out of town for most people, the asking price could be at a considerable discount from the same house closer in. If you prefer cool, shady backyards over more open and sunny ones, your offer might be accepted by an eager owner who’s not had many other takers.

Location, location, location! may be a cliché, but it’s been around forever for a reason. When you are house hunting—especially if you are new to Idyllwild—it’s important to give special attention to local neighborhood characteristics that may not be obvious at first glance. In Idyllwild, it’s another good reason to count on a knowledgeable local real estate specialist…like yours truly!


From the team at Forest Realty in Idyllwild California

Feb. 13, 2016

Idyllwild Real Estate Trends

New Survey Could Reveal Idyllwild Real Estate Attitude Shifts 

Idyllwild Real Estate Attitude Shifts May Register via New Survey New Survey Says ‘Ah,’ Measures Shifting Real Estate Trends


Any way you cut it, real estate makes up a huge chunk of the overall economy. One consequence of that is that the health of the real estate industry is constantly being put under a microscope (if it were a human patient, it would probably grow alarmed by all the doctors and specialists constantly calling it in for routine check-ups). 

Everyone from Washington regulators to Idyllwild tradespeople look to the performance of residential real estate as one of the most meaningful indicators of how everything else is doing. Locally, it’s not surprising that the pace of real estate sales in Idyllwild always seems to align with many other area business prospects as a whole. 

Probably because that’s true in most places, the National Association of Realtors® has come up with a new way to poke and prod the patient. It’s called the “HOME Survey”— ‘HOME’ being an acronym for “Housing Opportunities and Market Experience.” This is a somewhat strained way to describe the purpose, which is to find out how typical consumers feel about residential real estate in general, and homeownership in particular. 

Instead of being another dry collection of statistics, this survey could turn out to be a lot more revealing than many others because it is going to be measured every month from now on—then reported every quarter. Even though it will be conducted nationally, I’m guessing that Idyllwild real estate trends could well turn up here, since it is the changes in attitude that will become apparent. 

Anyway, the first survey results are in—so we have a baseline we can use for comparison. These first findings reveal some very positive findings. Among them:

  • Percentage of renters who want to become homeowners: 83%
  • Percentage of households believing homeownership is a good financial decision: 88%
  • Percentage of households who believe owning a home is part of their own American Dream 87%

Since ‘The American Dream’ is such a generalized term, the survey attempts to nail down which features of owning a home are the most appealing. The three leaders are, “A place to raise a family” (36%); “Owning a place of your own” (26%); and “A nest egg for retirement” (14%).


It should be interesting for Idyllwild real estate watchers to compare future findings with that baseline—and to see if local attitudes reflect the same kind of shifts. In any case, if your own feelings about home ownership match those findings, you can easily begin your own made-to-order version of a Idyllwild“Housing Opportunities and Market Experience.” Just call me!

Feb. 10, 2016

Winter Listings

On Evidence that Winter Listings Produce Favorable Results

Expectations for Joining the Idyllwild Listings in February

Punxutawney Phil & Predicting Idyllwild Listings in Winter


Especially this time of year—and even more especially when Idyllwild’s weather turns grisly—common sense would seem to lead any homeowner planning to sell their Idyllwild home this year to hold off for the moment…at least until Punxutawney Phil’s forecast starts to come true (the venerable groundhog said that winter 2016 will be a short one). A quick peek at Idyllwild listings in most Februarys usually confirms the notion that most people decide to wait. As a rule, the ranks of the Idyllwild listings in February are a good deal thinner than will be the case a few months later.

Delaying isn’t necessarily the most convenient answer for every homeowner—which gives rise to questioning whether that particular piece of common sense is always as sensible as it seems. At least one writer thinks not.

Just over a year ago, Kenneth Harney authored an account describing some contrary evidence. Writing in The Washington Post, he reported on national sales results “that suggest it’s not necessarily the case” that spring or early summer are the most favorable times to launch listings. In fact, a winter launch (this year, December 22 through March 20) can prove “surprisingly advantageous.”

The most compelling evidence for that claim comes from an online brokerage firm whose two-year study of asking and selling prices led it to conclude that listings launched in December through March actually yielded the best chance of resulting in above-asking price sales: 17%! The evidence was similar for those hoping to sell quickly. Listings debuting in February turned out to be champs: an average 66% of February listings sold within 90 days, making it “historically the best month to list.” 

We might be led to believe that these are reasons enough to hurry up and rush to enter the Idyllwild listings immediately. Of course not all by itself—but for properties already in showable condition, it might be a reason to consider it. Logically, leaner Idyllwild listings mean less competition. Since it’s common for those whose homes did not move last summer to withdraw them until the spring, homeowners who list before then stand to get a jump on the market. And yes, since many corporations tend to transfer employees and hire new ones early in the year, some of those newcomers will have found their new Idyllwild homes before the spring real estate rush begins. 

Harney’s article does ultimately undermine the notion that correctly choosing a good listing month automatically guarantees a quick sale at a higher-than-asking price. The giveaway comes from one quoted source who mentions that owners of properties that hadn’t attracted serious offers during the warmer months “get more realistic at this time of year.” This therefore makes winter also a good time for “smart shoppers.” My experience with my own clients (all of whom are definitely smart shoppers) suggests they seldom are itching to make higher-than-asking offers—certainly not right off the bat. The inescapable truth is that, like most other factors, the results garnered by any Idyllwild listing depend on a whole galaxy of factors in addition to the season.

If your own plans include listing or house hunting any time this year, I hope you’ll give me a call. I’ll be delighted to provide you with my totally confidential, no-obligation consultation, including an up-to-the-moment Idyllwild market situation report.  


From the team at Forest Realty in Idyllwild California.

Feb. 9, 2016

Real Estate Checklists

Idyllwild Agent Wonders What Is It about Real Estate and Threes?  

Idyllwild Real Estate Checklists: Must They Run in 3s?

Idyllwild Realtor® Launches Real Estate List Inquiry 


When you go searching for the latest Idyllwild real estate news online, as likely as not you will find the lion’s share is dominated by advertisements (not to complain: I advertise, too) and the current Idyllwild listings. There is rarely any true Idyllwild real estate news as such—since what’s ‘new’ is principally the arrival and departure of the latest batch of Idyllwild homes for sale.

All the other nuggets of Idyllwild real estate “news” are actually news’ first cousins: features about real estate—most of which deal with the age-old verities of the field rather than anything that is truly up-to-the-moment new. The other day, while hunting down the latest Idyllwild real estate goings-on, as usual, our national Realtors’® web site kept coming up. This is not unusual, since our organization is one of the most active trade organizations in the country, quoted often right here. But one of the features stood out, and I clicked on it.

The video in question was brand new last week: “3 of the Dumbest Home Loan Mistakes You Can Make”—a fairly irresistible title. The three were: don’t lie; don’t buy an expensive auto while applying; don’t use an out of town lender who doesn’t know the market, and don’t skip getting a second opinion (I know that’s four, but I threw in ‘don’t lie’ myself, since that’s the dumbest of all).

Once you begin looking around for interesting real estate videos, what really stands out is how many of them are lists. Apparently people (including people like me) find it hard to resist titles that promise to list things. That could be because everyone is curious about other peoples’ opinions of what’s important…and how important (what’s first and what’s last). 

At any rate, a quick scan of the titles among the real estate videos revealed something that would be hard to guess. Not only are there a whole lot of lists—there are a whole lot of them whose list stops at three. Top 3. Best 3. Dumbest 3.

There were 3 Secret Tips to Winning a Bidding War; 3 Tough Conversations Sellers Can Avoid Having with their Realtor; 3 Insider Hacks for Staging Your Home; 3 Home Improvement Projects You Shouldn’t Do Yourself; 3 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive (declutter and clean; replace hardware; and fix fixtures…the only ‘sneaky’ thing about this list was the title). 

All of those were on that single Realtors’ web site! And when you start looking around everywhere else, you come up with an avalanche: 3 Things to Consider Before You Pull the Trigger on Real Estate; The 3 Things Real Estate Marketers Can Learn from Black Friday; 3 Things Poker Can Teach You About Real Estate (no surprises there: “weigh risk vs. rewards;” “know the odds;” “pay attention to the human factor”); 3 Things to Know Before You Buy Your First Home (these three weren’t very illuminating: “get preapproved;” “save up”; “consider your lifestyle when house hunting”).

It was tempting to try to see if the Top 5 lists were even more numerous, or the Top 10; but by then the clock had already run out on the Real Estate List Research project. There are more than three items to act on when you decide to sell your Idyllwild home, or begin looking for your next. For a dependably good start, begin with Item #1: call me! 


From the team at Forest Realty in Idyllwild California

Feb. 8, 2016

Appraising Idyllwild Appraisals

Appraising Idyllwild Appraisals:

Adjustments are the True Art Idyllwild Appraisals are as Objective as Possible…but… Idyllwild Appraisals: by Definition, Part Art, Part Science 


Built into the way an Idyllwild home changes ownership is the institution of the appraisal report—the document which attempts to place a dollar value on the property in question. That word “attempts” is the key when it comes to appraisals. Although it would make life easier if Idyllwild appraisals consisted of completely objective, scientifically verifiable calculations, in the real world, they can’t be. 

Idyllwild appraisals are created by locating comparable properties that have sold recently on the open market, then adjusting that dollar amount to reflect the differences between them. That’s where perfect objectivity becomes…um…subject to interpretation. 

If only any two homes were exactly the same in every detail, the latest price paid for one would be the best appraised value for the other. But even in the best case—say, two tract homes built at the same time with exactly the same features—their appraised values probably wouldn’t be exactly the same.  After all, they can’t occupy the same plots, and one location might be preferable. They might not have the same maintenance history, so one might be in better condition than the other. The landscaping could differ greatly…and so on.

This is the reason why adjustments need to be made—and why the skill of the appraiser is so important. (I’m tempted to say that’s why appraisers get the big bucks; but in fact, our Idyllwild appraisers’ fees are actually quite reasonable). Details on how they go about finding fair value for those adjustments is the subject of a recently revived investigation done by CoreLogic’s Jon Wierks. For anyone who finds themselves relying on local appraisals to validate an asking price (or the home loan that will allow a sale to close), the report makes for interesting reading.

The focus of the piece was to elaborate on which adjustments are most influential in creating appraisals. By analyzing more than a million sample appraisals made between 2012 and 2015, the study determined which features had the greatest impact on the resulting evaluations. They disregarded any feature that didn’t appear on at least 10% of the reports—and came up with the most important features. If this were the Oscars, we’d now say, “the envelope, please”:

Most frequently adjusted: LIVING AREA (no surprise here; square footage almost always differs).

Runner-up: ROOMS (that is, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms).

Greatest value adjustment: QUALITY RATING (the average adjustment came in at a not inconsiderable $15,000!).


These findings underline truly how important the skill and experience of the appraiser turns out to be, since the greatest dollar amount impact depends on the more subjective criteria. That’s even before taking into account that three free-form factors appeared in more than 10% of the appraisals. These miscellaneous factors, given the mysterious names “Other1, Other2, and Other3,” reinforce how unclassifiable are the differences between most properties and their closest comparable neighbors.

When it comes toIdyllwild real estate, I aid in every aspect of the process. I hope you’ll think of me (and definitely give me a call!) when the time to buy or sell approaches. 


From the team at Forest Realty in Idyllwild California.