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B4-1.3-04, Site Section of the Appraisal Report (06/05/2018)

This topic contains information on reviewing the Site section of the appraisal report form, including:


The property site should be of a size, shape, and topography that is generally conforming and acceptable in the market area. It must also have competitive utilities, street improvements, adequate vehicular access, and other amenities (see Property Requirements in  B2-3-01, General Property EligibilityB2-3-01, General Property Eligibility for additional information). Because amenities, easements, and encroachments may either detract from or enhance the marketability of a site, the appraiser must reflect them in the analysis and evaluation. The appraiser must comment if the site has adverse conditions or if there is market resistance to a property because the site is not compatible with the neighborhood or the requirements of the competitive market, and assess the effect, if any, on the value and marketability of the property.

Site Analysis

The appraisal must include the actual size of the site and not a hypothetical portion of the site for the subject property.  For example, the appraiser may not appraise only 5 acres of an unsubdivided 40–acre parcel. The appraised value must reflect the entire 40–acre parcel.

Subject Property Zoning

The appraiser must report the specific zoning class in the appraisal, along with a general statement as to what the zoning permits, such as one- or two-unit, when they indicate a specific zoning such as R-1 or R-2. The appraisal must indicate whether the subject property presents

  • a legal conforming use,

  • a legal non-conforming (grandfathered) use,

  • an illegal use under the zoning regulations, or

  • that there is no local zoning.

Fannie Mae only purchases or securitizes mortgage loans on properties if the improvements constitute a legal conforming use of the land. However, Fannie Mae will purchase or securitize a mortgage for a property that constitutes a legal, nonconforming use of the land provided that the appraisal analysis reflects any adverse effect that the nonconforming use has on the value and the marketability of the property. This requirement applies to all property types.

Fannie Mae will not purchase or securitize a mortgage secured by a property that is subject to certain land-use regulations, such as coastal tideland or wetland laws, that create setback lines or other provisions that prevent the reconstruction or maintenance of the property improvements if they are damaged or destroyed. The intent of these types of land-use regulations is to remove existing land uses and to stop land development, including the maintenance or construction of seawalls, within specific setback lines.

For information regarding accessory units that comply or do not comply with zoning, see B4-1.3-05, Improvements Section of the Appraisal ReportB4-1.3-05, Improvements Section of the Appraisal Report.

Highest and Best Use

Fannie Mae will only purchase or securitize a mortgage that represents the highest and best use of the site as improved. If the current improvements clearly do not represent the highest and best use of the site as an improved site, it must be indicated on the appraisal report.

The appraiser determines highest and best use of a site as the reasonable and probable use that supports the highest present value on the effective date of the appraisal. For improvements to represent the highest and best use of a site, they must be legally permitted, financially feasible, and physically possible, and must provide more profit than any other use of the site would generate. All of those criteria must be met if the improvements are to be considered as the highest and best use of a site.

The appraiser’s highest and best use analysis of the subject property should consider the property as it is improved. This treatment recognizes that the existing improvements should continue in use until it is financially feasible to remove the dwelling and build a new one, or to renovate the existing dwelling. If the use of comparable sales demonstrates that the improvements are reasonably typical and compatible with market demand for the neighborhood, and the present improvements contribute to the value of the subject property so that its value is greater than the estimated vacant site value, the appraiser should consider the existing use as reasonable and report it as the highest and best use.

Adjoining Properties

The appraiser must consider the present or anticipated use of any adjoining property that may adversely affect the value or marketability of the subject property.

Site Utilities

For mortgage loans to be eligible for purchase or securitization, the utilities of the property must meet community standards. If public sewer and/or water facilities, those that are supplied and regulated by the local government, are not available, community or private well and septic facilities must be available and utilized by the subject property. The owners of the subject property must have the right to access those facilities, which must be viable on an ongoing basis. Private well or septic facilities must be located on the subject site, unless the subject property has the right to access off-site private facilities and there is an adequate, legally binding agreement for access and maintenance.

If there is market resistance to an area because of environmental hazards or any other conditions that affect well, septic, or public water facilities, the appraisal must address the effect of the hazards on the value and marketability of the subject property (see B4-1.4-08, Environmental Hazards Appraisal RequirementsB4-1.4-08, Environmental Hazards Appraisal Requirements).

Off-Site Improvements

Off-site improvements include, but are not limited to, streets, alleys, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and street lights. The subject property should front on a publicly dedicated and maintained street that meets community standards and is generally accepted by area residents. If a property fronts on a street that is not typical of those found in the community, the appraiser must address the effect of that location on the value and marketability of the subject property.

The presence of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, street lights, and alleys depends on local custom. If they are typical in the community, they should be present on the subject site. The appraiser must comment on any adverse conditions and address their effect on the value and marketability of the subject property.

Community-Owned or Privately Maintained Streets

If the property is located on a community-owned or privately-owned and maintained street, an adequate, legally enforceable agreement or covenant for maintenance of the street is required. The agreement or covenant should include the following provisions and be recorded in the land records of the appropriate jurisdiction:

  • responsibility for payment of repairs, including each party’s representative share;

  • default remedies in the event a party to the agreement or covenant fails to comply with their obligations; and

  • the effective term of the agreement or covenant, which in most cases should be perpetual and binding on any future owners.

Note: If the property is located within a state that has statutory provisions that define the responsibilities of property owners for the maintenance and repair of a private street, no separate agreement or covenant is required.

If the property is not located in a state that imposes statutory requirements for maintenance, and either there is no agreement or covenant for maintenance of the street, or an agreement or covenant exists but does not meet the requirements listed above, the lender may still deliver the loan. However, the lender is required to indemnify Fannie Mae (as described in  A2-1-03, Indemnification for LossesA2-1-03, Indemnification for Losses) against all losses incurred by Fannie Mae as a result of the physical condition of the street or in order to establish and/or retain access to the street.

Special Flood Hazard Areas

Fannie Mae’s appraisal report forms provide an area for the appraiser to indicate whether the property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area that is identified on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The appraiser must also indicate the specific FEMA flood zone and the map number and its effective date. For additional information concerning Fannie Mae’s policies on flood insurance, see  B7-3-06, Flood Insurance Requirements for All Property TypesB7-3-06, Flood Insurance Requirements for All Property Types.

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