Everything You Need to Know About Appraising Barndominiums (2024)

Welcome to the world of cool real estate. Today’s feature: the barndominium. In other words, the hippest living alternative for farmers and farmer-wannabes alike. They’re stylish, roomy, and relatively affordable to build — making them a great alternative in a time of sky-high home buying prices and mortgage rates (the highest in 22 years). Here’s what you need to know about appraising these special structures that are neither barn nor condo, but something in between.

What Is a Barndominium?

Forget the shiplap and chicken couture. The barn-condominium (aka, barndominium or “barndo”) brings the whole barn and leaves room to get creative. They are constructed almost exactly like a classic barn, using metal and concrete. This makes them structurally sound as well as fire resistant. They also boast the following features, which make them an attractive housing option for modern homebuyers:

  • High ceilings

  • Open floor plans

  • Relatively quick and affordable construction

  • Lots of natural light

  • Resistant to pests and mold

  • Built to last

  • Eco-friendly

Now a popular feature on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” the barndominium was first conceptualized by Karl Nilsen in 1989 as a way for horse people to live above their stables, and create the opportunity for them to thrive in horse-centered communities. Though this community idea didn’t quite take off, what resulted is a low-maintenance alternative to the traditional home. And this idea, especially post-pandemic, is finding its crowd. (See ya later, “neigh” sayers!)

Factors Affecting the Appraisal of Barndominiums

A bit of a black sheep in real estate, the barndominium calls for several considerations in the appraisal process. Luckily, most of these factors are fairly standard in your appraisal practice.


Since 2023, barndominiums have been exploding in popularity in semi-rural areas — especially in the south and southeast — due to the availability of large plots of land. States where they are most popular include Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. That means finding comparable sales in these states should be easier than, say, a barndo in the pacific northwest.


Thanks to their grandeur, a barndo could appraise a little higher than your traditional 3-bedroom suburban home. Of course, each property will vary as there is a lot of freedom in the building and design of a barndominium. Also, a larger property can mean a more challenging appraisal process, as there are likely more features, rooms, and details to take into account as you collect your data.

Age and Condition

Most barndominiums are relatively new, having gained most of their popularity from the 2010s to now. Thanks to their recent emergence, you’ll likely find most of them to be in good condition and up-to-date on building regulations and codes. There should also be recent sales data available to help inform your comps.

Design and Features

Because there are so many ways to customize these structures, this is where the appraisal could get tricky. One barndo might have a fully functional event space for ballroom dancing and dinner parties. Another might include a workshop for sports cars or carpentry. Or maybe there are spiral staircases that lead to loft offices. While the customizability is the appeal, it might also pose challenges in their valuation.

Zoning and Permits

During your appraisal process, it’s best practice to consider the property’s highest and best use, but this must also align with what use is actually possible (physically, financially, productively, and legally). If a property is built for commercial use, but wasn’t constructed in the right zone, this will knock its value.

Comparable Sales

This part is a little trickier and depends on the age and location of the property. You may need to expand the scope of your search to properties out of town or even out of state, since the barndo you’re appraising could be one of a kind in the area. As always, be thorough when you report these comps, and make sure to note all differences in your report (since they are quite unique).

Appraisal Methods for Barndominiums

There are a handful of good methods you can use to appraise a barndominium. Using these in conjunction with one another — the hybrid approach — will help you make the most accurate valuation.

Cost Approach

To perform a cost approach analysis on a barndo, you’ll need to consider the construction costs of one of these properties. This will include all material costs, labor costs, square footage, and any special features. Barndominiums are relatively affordable to build, and their materials are unlikely to depreciate much over time, being constructed of metal and concrete. Land value might be the most valuable part of the property, and since barndos are becoming hot commodities, these factors could be major benefits.

Income Capitalization Approach

If zoning permits a barndominium to be used commercially, the income capitalization approach is a great, math-based approach to determining its value. Even if the property won’t be used as a rental, this approach can help determine the unique income potential.

Sales Comparison Approach

Though potentially difficult to obtain for these properties, the sales comparison approach will help ensure the most accurate valuation possible. As previously mentioned, your search might go far and wide based on barndominiums’ popularity where you’re conducting your appraisal. But don’t feel the need to analyze ‘til the cows come home — there’s one way you can get the best, broadest overview of the property’s value…

Hybrid Approach

Using a hybrid approach in appraisal ensures you get the most data and the best cross-filter of information you need to determine a property’s value — and it’s especially useful in cases like these where you’re dealing with unique types of properties! Each barndominium is one of a kind, even down to their primary function. So, making the most of your appraisal methods will give you the biggest advantage in finding the highest and best use as well as the fairest value for each property.

Bring Home the Bacon

Most of us weren’t born in a barn, but with barndos on the rise, we kind of wish we were. Barndominiums are a cool new answer to affordable, modern living with a rustic flare. Appraising them, however, can start to feel muddy, especially as a new appraiser.

Thankfully, we’ve got the tools you need to prepare yourself to appraise a market full of unique and impressive properties. Check out our Continuing Education course offerings and subscribe to our Appraisal Career Resources to help you stay competitive and informed, every step of the way.

Everything You Need to Know About Appraising Barndominiums (2024)


How do barndominiums appraise? ›

**Research**: The appraiser starts with research into the local real estate market, focusing on comparable sales (comps), current listings, and recent transactions of properties similar in style, size, and location to the barndominium being appraised.

Do barndominiums hold their value? ›

Barndominiums normally retain their resale value and may even increase in value gradually, although more slowly than a standard home. However, these homes are still rare in some parts of the country, and it may be challenging to get an accurate appraisal in an area where there are few.

Why are barndominiums hard to finance? ›

Banks require appraisals to determine the property's value, which in turn, informs their lending decisions. Because barndominiums are relatively unique and fewer in number compared to traditional homes, finding comparable sales (comps) necessary for accurate valuation is difficult.

Are barndominiums hard to sell? ›

The design and layout of a barndominium can significantly impact its resale value. A well-designed barndominium with distinct features such as exposed beams or custom finishes will have higher resale value. On the other hand, poorly designed barndominiums may be harder to sell or have lower resale value.

What are the mistakes during appraisal? ›

Recency Error: Recency error in performance appraisal is all about giving disproportionate weight to an employee's most recent performance rather than considering their overall performance over a specific period. This bias can lead to overlooking long-term achievements or progress.

Do appraisers look in showers? ›

Similar to kitchens, bathrooms are inspected for quality, condition and materials. An appraiser looks at whether it's a full or half bath, whether it has a decent shower, updated lighting, quality counters and looks for signs of mold.

Does a messy house affect an appraisal? ›

Your Home. The appraisal professional who performs your appraisal is not concerned with whether or not your dishes are done, or your laundry is put away – these things don't affect the value of your home, and the value of your home is what an appraisal is all about.

Why are barndominiums hard to insure? ›

While a barndominium is very similar to a traditionally built home, insuring them can be much more difficult. There can be several reasons why insurance companies are hesitant to insure these structures. The primary reason is that these homes are non-standard construction, which means they lack historical data.

Are barndominiums worth the money? ›

Pros of barndominiums include a cheaper cost, fully customizable space, and lower maintenance. They're also highly durable with lots of extra room and are a more eco-friendly housing option. Meanwhile, cons include higher upfront costs, difficulties finding financing, and not all cities allow them.

Are barndominiums bad investments? ›

As such, it is more difficult to assess the resale value of a Barndominium. Unlike modular homes and trailers, Barndominiums maintain their value and are likely to increase over time. If you are purely looking for a quick resale investment, a Barndominium may not be your best option.

What is the lifespan of a barndominium? ›

This is a common question people ask when looking into barndominiums as a housing option. When you find the right builder, use the right materials in construction, and keep up with the maintenance barndominiums can last more than 50 years, sometimes even up to 100 years, if appropriately managed.

Do barndominiums build equity? ›

Barndominiums, particularly those with steel frames, are increasingly recognized for their potential to accrue equity, largely due to their durability, energy efficiency, and the growing market demand for such properties.

How to comp a barndominium? ›

When appraising barndominiums, choose comparables of similar size to the subject property. Additionally, you must be consistent when you calculate and report the finished square feet of gross living area.

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