Secrets of Reviewing Marina Appraisals – Part 4 of 8

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The Site Description section is typically the easiest part of an appraisal to write.  Thanks to online data systems, getting pretty and timely maps is almost too easy.  Appraisers know how to describe topography and other basic site features.  I’ve said before that each marina has a story to tell and the Site Description is no exception.

Important Marina Site Characteristics

Marinas sites have some unique characteristics.  The emphasis on many of the site characteristics are also different.  When there is the possibility for building expansion and enough land for additional building, site characteristics become even more important.

Here’s the short-list of important characteristics that should be mentioned in the report:

  1. Body of water – is the subject located on a river, a channel, a bay, the ocean, a lake, etc.?  All of these have important implications for boat access.
  2. History of flooding – has the property been flooded?  When and why?  If so, maybe floating docks are a more prudent investment than always having to repair damaged fixed docks.
  3. Excess land and surplus land – are these present?  If so, there could be the potential “upside potential” of the marina.  I have blogged at length on this topic in the my long Realities of Marina Land blog series
  4. Parking – is there enough of it?  What is the parking space to slip ratio? If a new building were contemplated on the site, would parking be reduced to the point of cannibalizing dockside parking?
  5. Shoreline – what type of shoreline is present?  Is it stabilized via wooden bulkheads or rip rap?  How much of it is destabilized (i.e. can erode with the next few major storms)?
  6. Wind and wave protection – this is a big one.  I’ve seen simple changes like removing a failing tire breakwater and not replacing it having tragic consequences on the docks and the bulkheads.
  7. Water depth – how deep is the water at different points in the marina?  It is not enough to just say “six feet”?  It may be six feet at the channel entrance and 4 feet inside, for example. If the depth is “six feet”, you should see boats of just one size range parked within the slips, but how often do you see that?  Depth is also important for dredging, which I also speak about at length.
  8. Wetlands – are they present?  I discuss them at length in the Realities of Marina Land blog series.
  9. Soils – can the soil bear the load of an additional building?  How about more dry storage?  You know where I blogged about that by now.

Paint Me a Pretty Picture

When reviewing a marina appraisal, there’s nothing I like better than having the appraiser paint me a picture of the topic being discussed.  The above gives me a clear picture on the development potential of the site (and therefore a better idea about land value).  It also gives me a clear picture on marina upside potential and risk of loss.  These can factor into the selection of the capitalization rate too.  The picture doesn’t have to be pretty… it just has to be easily seen.

Part 5 of this series will address the Description of the Improvements.  I will cover not just the buildings but the docks too.

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