I just completed a relocation appraisal where the previous owner finished the bonus room area over the garage and installed a deck.  Very nice additions to the property.  Yes, I said additions.  They weren’t on the original building permits and are considered additions to the property.  The living area I measured was more than 400 square feet larger than the assessor’s records (property data card) and the deck was not listed either.  Guess what?  No permits so not legal “as is”. Now, the property owner has to file for two new building permits, open up the wall in the family room (former unfinished bonus room) and dig down and around the deck footings so, the building inspector can inspect the additions for conformity to current building code.  In this case, he needed the wall open to inspect the insulation in the family room.  Oh, did I mention the cost of each building permit is twice their original cost.

Many lenders have access to the assessor property data card through multiple sites, including public record services or even Zillow.  What that means is they compare the living area in the refinance or purchase appraisal with the public record. If there is a great difference they call the appraiser to clarify. It is the appraiser’s responsibility to let the lender/client know if the property is legal “as is”. Without the proper permits it is not legal, and therefore cannot meet the criteria of Highest and Best Use. As for basements, if it is common and typical, the mortgage financing industry in general are not imposing strict guidelines at this time.  However, finished basement cannot be considered living space without the proper permits and exterior egress. In a nut shell, the return on your investment is very, very low.

The other and very important issue you absolutely need to consider is property insurance. Without obtaining the proper permits the property is not legal and the insurance companies can deny your claim. That would cost a lot more than the increase in property and school taxes people so desperately try to avoid. So, now the big question, “Is it worth it?”  Do you already have changes to your property that were done without the proper permits? Maybe by the previous own? Call and check with the assessor or look-up your property on Zillow.  Or did the building inspector tell you that you didn’t need one. Please get that in writing.

Margaret M. Dennis, SRA

Dennis Appraisals, LLC





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FHA Approved Appraiser?


Margaret M. Dennis, SRA, Owner and past Chairperson of the Albany Chapter of the Appraisal Institute

Yes, Margaret M. Dennis, SRA, is an approved FHA Appraiser.
(NYS Certified Residential Real Estate #NY4500003927)

Who are we and what can we do for you?

Dennis Appraisals, LLC is a leading residential real estate appraisal firm with local expertise dedicated to providing valuation and consulting services through analytic discipline and a team approach. Our company’s philosophy is to provide an objective analysis to assist our clients in making informed real estate decisions. Our reports are prepared with the precision that the industry demands with all major property types included.

  • 24 – 72 hour turnaround time after inspection
  • Electronic ordering and PDF or ACI delivery
  • Secure on-line system to track all your appraisals

Our commitment to the industry and the utilization of superior technology has allowed us to provide better service to our clients while controlling cost. We consistently outperform our competitors with better turn-around time by streamlining the appraisal process. We are able to produce a better quality product in a more efficient manner with since our system reducing many of the manual tasks typically associated with the appraisal process.

With the click of a mouse you can order, track, and receive your appraisal order 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our site also provides online statements and appraisal pick-up access to your appraisals through a personal and secure login. Our system is updated daily so you are always in the loop during the entire transaction from the appraisal request through delivery.

We are experienced at performing high-quality property appraisals for financial institutions, FHA, brokers, attorney’s, asset service departments and private individuals. With our knowledge of the residential real estate mortgage business, advanced technology, and consistently fast turn-around time, we are one of the most trusted names in the appraisal business.

SRA color
  Margaret M. Dennis holds the respected SRA Designation from the Appraisal Institute.                                                                    

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