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real estate

Forget the Bells and Whistles

Nora King has no illusions about the value of a home. She should know. She’s a real estate appraiser. “A home is a great investment but it’s not an ATM machine,” she said. “It’s where you live and it should appreciate at a regular rate of return.”

Nora has some useful insights into what adds value to a home. “When we appraise a house we look at the general condition and whether it has been kept up-to-date,” she said. Renovated kitchens are a worthwhile investment. But she also has advice for those considering adding bells and whistles, like a wine cellar, a pool or a fancy barbeque. “We place very little value on these upgrades,” she said. So if you’re thinking of adding a gym in the basement just for resale purposes, don’t bother.

Nora first got into appraising when a college boyfriend asked her to take a class in appraising with him. Later, a part-time job as an appraiser helped pay for her master’s in strategic planning from Columbia University. Constant traveling as a marketing consultant and too many nights in hotels after missed flights convinced her to change careers. “I’d always been interested in architecture, houses and real estate, so going into the appraisal business made sense,” she said. In 2005 she opened her own business, Nora King and Co, LLC . She employs 10 appraisers who cover all southeastern Connecticut, as well as Hartford County.

“It’s very important that appraisers know the towns in which they work and have all the right tools – we subscribe to all the Multiple Listing Services,” she said. Nora’s appraisers must know and research all the neighborhoods, get to know the local planning and zoning committees, understand the style and condition of homes and be able to give realistic values to the homes they appraise. “Real estate agents have been blaming appraisers for low prices,” she said adding that her appraisers are scrupulous in getting valid comparables for all properties they appraise.

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