My wife and I purchased our Portland area split entry home
over ten years ago. At that time, our
real estate agent told us, “Buyers usually only buy one split entry home.” I do not know if that statement is true, but
it says something about the local perception of split entry homes and how they
can be a unique appraisal problem.
A split entry, split (for short in our area), or two-story
bi-level home is one where there is a small entry landing between two levels of
the home. This should not be confused
with a split
level home (typically called tri-level in the Portland area) where
the entry leads to a main kitchen, living, and dining area of the home and you
can either go up or down half levels to access the bedroom or garage levels. On split entry homes, there is usually a half
stairway that leads down into a daylight basement and garage or up to the main
living area of the house, directly from the entry landing of the home.
The reason that split entry homes can sometimes be
difficult to appraise, particularly if there are not many other splits in the
area, is that they are functionally different than most homes. Therefore, comparisons to other types must be
made with caution. Here is a list of
negative aspects related to the marketing of split entry homes.
the garage is usually on the lower level and the kitchen is usually on the
upper level of a split entry, a simple trip to the grocery store means that all
the groceries must be carried up a full flight of stairs to the kitchen level.
the front door on a split entry home can be difficult. Imagine standing in a typical four by seven foot
split entry landing where the door swings into the middle of that space. Inviting your guests to also step into the
roughly three feet by three feet that remains between the door and the base of
the stairs can be challenging and awkward.
lower levels of split entry homes are often dark and cold because of concrete
floors, partial concrete walls, and smaller windows.
entry homes typically have the kitchen, living, dining, and bedrooms all on the
main level. For this reason, split entry
homes can often feel small on the main level in relation to the total area and
the relatively large lower level family rooms.
entry homes frequently have uneven or less usable yards with retaining walls or
steep slopes because the dirt excavated for the basement usually gets piled up
and redistributed on one side of the home.
Also, split entry homes are often the best use of a sloped site.
Split entry homes offer positive aspects like lower build
cost per square foot, ducting that is usually within the heated envelope,
window privacy on the elevated main level, cool basements in the summer, and
good separation of living. However, in
Portland, the negatives usually outweigh the positives; consequently, caution
must be used in the appraisal process.
Here is my list of tips for appraisals of split entry homes.
split entry homes whenever possible as comparable sales. If none are available, the best alternatives
in the Portland area are usually ranch homes with a daylight basement that also
have a lower level garage or choose tri-level homes of similar vintage. Recognize that split entry homes might be
perceived functionally inferior to many alternatives.
aware that typically split entry homes are built as a way to get the most finished
area for the lowest cost. Therefore, split
entry homes often lack other features
that relate to quality.
caution when performing the cost approach on split entry homes. Many of the cost estimation sources will
underestimate the cost of the basement on a split entry home, particularly if
the user of the cost data does not understand exactly what is being estimated. This is because the cost reflected for a
finished basement will sometimes not account for the higher cost of the partly
above-grade nature of the split entry basement.
For example, the added cost of partial stud walls and more and/or larger
windows compared to a fully subterranean basement.
Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the
conversation? Let me know in the
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