Site Size Correction Notices

Site Size Correction Notices From AMC AmateursAMC’s who demand you change site size in reports are amateurs…


Yesterday, an appraiser ‘pen pal’ sent me the query below, asking what I would do. My response follows.

I admit to having a very low tolerance level for stupidity and demands from others who don’t possess all the facts, and most often are not appraisers.

The query:

“Over the past year with more AMCs going to automated checker software, I have been getting “correction notices” about the site size I reported, almost for every report. So, I changed how I did it so it would stop coming back, but I feel it’s wrong.”

Yes, it is wrong!

“For my reports, I use the values from the Plat Map…such as 100’ x 120’…which equals 12,000 sf.

BUT Realist and the Public Records often show something like 11,484 sf.

In the past I would show 12,000 sf, but the AMC software would send it back as wrong and they would point to the Realist (or whatever data source they use) and make me change it to 11,484 sf.

How are you dealing with such simple data that does not match?

My response was this:

  • Find new clients. The AMC’s who demand you change site size in reports are amateurs.
  • The ‘survey’ or a plat map with dimensions trumps anything Realist has. Read #1 again.
  • County records with site size indicated also trumps Realist. Read #1 again.
  • The “plat maps” in my area shown on the Assessor web sites never show dimensions. So in my reports I have a statement used on the Dimension line: “Not on Plat Map. Size from (CoRcds) (Survey) or (Realist as a last resort)” – whichever applies. In the Size field, I use whatever that particular source indicates. I never get any push back for this reporting procedure.
  • By the way…..Dimensions of a site is another one of the DUMB entries on these outdated forms. If you are working with an irregular shaped lot, what difference do the line dimensions mean to anyone? No one can replicate a lot just from the dimensions alone (unless the dimensions of sides are EXACTLY the same, either as a square or in pairs – or perhaps an equilateral triangle)… without knowing the angle of the intersecting lines.
  • If you are getting constant push back from amateurs, you should add a separate page into your report, or perhaps as the first page in your Addendum, in minimum 18pt bold typeface in red that says something like this…




Dave Towne
Image credit flickr - Mike Towber
Dave Towne

Dave Towne

AGA, MNAA, Accredited Green Appraiser - Licensed in WA State since 2003. Dave Towne on

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12 Responses

  1. David Bowen on Facebook David Bowen on Facebook says:

    I never change a report that I know is correct just because someone or some computer says so. I have received such requests in the past and each time they pressure me I do one simple thing. I ask to speak to their compliance person and tell them that they are trying to influence my appraisal. Every time I don’t hear back from them on that issue.

  2. Ross Grannan on Facebook Ross Grannan on Facebook says:

    I report what’s on the deed.

  3. Philip Gray on Facebook Philip Gray on Facebook says:

    I was taught the Plat Map was the final say. Luckily, I suppose, my new territory in WA doesn’t have dimensions on the plat maps, so we go off County GIS and I haven’t received one stip for site size since moving here.

  4. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    In using Datamaster, they pull public records including lot size from Corelogic, where as my local MLS linked public records pulls from a different source (CRS tax data). Thirdly, the as supplied lot dimensions on the plat maps can often vary from both if legible at all. Good luck adjusting that 1,500 sf variance when 60% of that 1.2 million dollar home is tied to the land.

    • Bill, CoreLogic pulls the data from the ‘stated’ area total in their profile report (realist or realquest)… Even where the plat map shows something else. I use the plat map as the most credible in my area (Los Angeles). One of the big beefs I have with DataMaster and similar services is that they will not pick up multi parcel lots sizes; or plat map vs stated total discrepancies.

      As for using offsite form fillers in India or the Philippines, don’t even get me started on that one.

      I almost never use mls. Once in awhile but  rarely. I’ve never met an agent that knows more about determining site area than I do.

  5. Avatar Stacy says:

    I haven’t seen any AMC software that says the site size that you reported is “wrong.”

    From what I have seen the software says the size you report differs from XYZ….please explain.

    I have also found that original comments specific to the issue go much further than the 18PT bold all caps canned comments with demands.

  6. Avatar Diana N. says:

    I always use the legal description and include the plat maps if there are more than one or if there is no legal description in the deed. Some of the old ones read north by the Elm tree, south by the rock wall, etc. .

  7. Baggins Baggins says:

    The ‘site size data’ is only as reliable as the source of the data and workers who deal with the data. For some counties who use the percent of an acre, you can easily get off track slightly based on how the calculator functions. If in doubt, find 2 verification sources from the county, available in many counties w/ modern tech tools where they have both the gis mapping service and standard assessors data. If you’re getting constant stips from this issue, it’s likely due to the assessors data being difficult for the mass data aggregators to access. The gis guys are typically regular employees but are often also advanced tech guys. They’re friendly and easy to reach with a phone call. It’s good form to have a quick conversation with them if you run into data match or validation issues. Ask them I suppose would be the best approach if you had to know for sure. If the question is gis and data, that’s the same exact specialist you need to present the intended credible valuation results. And because they’re state employees you can get that expert data advice for free.

  8. More “Big Data”; Yesterday I went to 72 unit condominium project. Three model matches to my subject – all 1,177 sf GLA.

    1. $295,000 (highly upgraded unit)

    2. $261,000 interior unit; unknown condition so far; – (bear with me, I’m NOT one of those 2 or 3 reports a day guys!).

    3. (Wait for it! Don’t get ahead of me now) $1,198,636!

    To a human, clearly an error! Most would know a 1,177 sf condo in historic east gangland is not selling for over a million bucks!..

    THANK YOU CORELOGIC RealQuest and your “Big Data” reliability! One of your newer desk monkey data input trainees misread the documentary transfer stamps. Actual County tax $322.30 / $1.10 per thousand = $293,000 Full Value Sale Price;

    YOUR monkey’s version took the separately added City Transfer Tax of $1,318.50 and divided that by $1.10. (should be divide by $4.50 if only using City tax);

    Now only the combined total shows on the recording ‘cover’ sheet. but LAW requires the SEPARATE AMOUNTS be shown on the deed copy itself. That would require flipping a page and looking at the actual deed…a task that the minimum wage-plus 10% Chair-chimp was never trained for.

    I mean unless of course the chair-chimp has been replaced as a result of  “leveraging technology with Big Data.”

    Possibly like the FNMA folks do?

    Maybe a programmed scanner was used that ONLY looks at the top pages of recording instruments?

    Actually it was hard to replicate the error because an additional $25. recording fee is tossed in the mix and apparently apportioned between the two, instead of being left out of value calculations completely.

    I can’t wait to see the results of all FNMAs PIWs and automated valuations in a couple years!

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Oh god, waivers?  Is that the new language and course of this industry? Well appraisers finally managed to automate themselves out of relevancy.  But there is another way, the manual detailed way.  I’d ask appraisers when would they care to reconsider the merits of time saving and volume vs a job and relevancy in the process.  At the time they have no ML work, or perhaps sooner?


  9. Avatar don says:

    Cadastral surveys, and records of surveys differ in use and legality. Assessors use cadastral surveys as a convenience for their mass inventory, Title insurance put up big money to guarantee. Assessors interpret just as do appraisers. Engineers calculate the sizes with correct math. Title companies also use judicial Districts for locations, because they do know the difference of where the Judicial questions will be asked, so should appraisers. Appraisers only report what they know???

  10. Actual plat maps in my area (Los Angeles County) are usually correct as far as can be determined without a separate survey. I’m talking about real plat maps. Not the garbage Realist includes in the MLS sourced overlay formats.

    Especially in more urbanized areas with more or less rectangular lots. My experience is that less than an estimated 1% overall are in error; though I’ve had isolated instances where the error rate was higher. Area of Cazador in Eagle Rock; some in Portuguese Bend…but in fairness, the ground there migrates toward the sea and a few other isolated instances. The most common is where vacated street easements or grants; or future street widening easements have been abandoned but not recorded. I’m always cautious of hillside winding road areas.

    I LIKE using ZIMAS (City of LA) but it is unreliable as far as exact bounds go. Close, and even a good source for ‘possible’ encroachments but orthographic photography is taken from a thirty degree overhead angle can create some visual distortions. Not as severe as Mercator projections, but still potentially “legally significant”.

    Conditions like this are why we have complex and non-complex property appraisal types. It’s also especially why non-certified appraisers need to exercise caution and NOT try to do more than their experience and license level allow. That’s not a put-down. I’ve known many great licensed appraisers. It’s just a reminder.


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Site Size Correction Notices

by Dave Towne time to read: 2 min