What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is a thought process leading to an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is arrived at through a formal process that typically uses the three ”common approaches to value”. They are the Cost Approach – which is what it would cost to replace the improvements, less physical deterioration and other factors, plus the land value. There is the Sales Comparison Approach – which involves making a comparison to other similar, nearby properties which have recently sold. The Sales Comparison Approach is typically the most accurate indicator of value for a residential property. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is of most importance in appraising income producing properties – it involves estimating what an investor would pay based on the income stream produced by the property.

What does an appraiser do?

An appraiser provides a professional, unbiased opinion of market value, to be used in making real estate decisions. Appraisers present their formal analysis in appraisal reports.

Why would a person need a home appraisal?

There are many reasons to obtain an appraisal with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for ordering an appraisal include:

  • To obtain a loan.
  • To lower your tax burden.
  • To contest high property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To provide a negotiating tool when purchasing real estate.
  • To determine a reasonable asking price when selling real estate.
  • To protect your rights in a condemnation case.
  • Because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you are involved in a lawsuit.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

The appraiser is not a home inspector nor does he/she do a complete home inspection. A home inspection is a third-party evaluation of the accessible structure and mechanical systems of a house. The standard home inspector’s report will include an evaluation of the condition of the home’s heating and aire system, plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

What is the difference between an Appraisal and a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)?

Simply put, the difference is night and day. The CMA relies on general market trends. The appraisal relies on specific, verifiable comparable sales. In addition, the appraisal looks at other factors such as condition, location and construction costs. A CMA delivers a ”ball park figure.” An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

In addition, a CMA is created by a real estate sales agent while an  appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Further, the appraiser is an independent voice, with no vested interest in the value of the property.

What does the appraisal report contain?

Each report must reflect a credible estimate of value and must identify the following:

The client and other intended users.
The intended use of the report.
The purpose of the assignment.
The type of value reported and the definition of the value reported.
The effective date of the appraiser’s opinions and conclusions.
Relevant property characteristics, including location attributes, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest valued, and Non real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, including trade fixtures and intangible items.
All known: easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and other items of a similar nature.
Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
The scope of work used to complete the assignment.

What credibility does an appraisal have?

Most states require that real estate appraisers are state licensed or certified. The state licensed or certified appraiser is trained to render an unbiased opinion based upon extensive education and experience requirements. To become licensed or certified, appraisers must fulfill rigorous education and experience requirements. In addition, appraisers must abide by a strict industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for developing an appraisal and reporting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).  Also, if you are dealing with appraisers that are affiliated with the Appraisal Institute (as Wilson & Hall is) there is an even higher degree of education, experience, and ethical standards that must be adhered to.

Who do appraisers work for?

Typically, appraisers are employed by lenders to estimate the value of real estate involved in a loan transaction. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Why do I need a professional appraisal in Georgia?

Anytime the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. If you’re selling your home or commercial property, an appraisal helps you set the most appropriate value. If you’re buying, it makes sure you don’t overpay. If you’re engaged in an estate settlement or divorce, it ensures that property is divided fairly.

What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. It insures a lender against loss on homes purchased with a down-payment of less than 20%. Once equity in the home reaches 20% you can eliminate the PMI and start saving immediately.

How do I get ready when the appraisal is ordered?

The first step in most appraisals is the home inspection. During this process, the appraiser will come to your home and measure it, determine the layout of the rooms inside, confirm all aspects of the home’s general condition, and take photos (interior and exterior) of your house for inclusion in the report.

What is ”Market Value?”

Market value or fair market value is the most probable price that a property should bring (will sell for) in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby: (1) buyer and seller are typically motivated; (2) both parties are well informed or well advised; (3) a reasonable time is allowed for exposure to the open market; (4) payment is made in terms of cash in U.S. dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and (5) the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale.

Who Actually Owns the Appraisal Report?

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. While the home buyer pays for the report as part of the closing costs, the lender retains the right to use the report or any information contained within. The home buyer is entitled to a copy of the report from the lender – it’s usually included with all of the other closing documents – but is not entitled to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these cases, the appraiser may stipulate how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.

Which home renovations add the most to the price?

The answer to this is different depending upon the location of the home and how much the buying market recognizes the feature. Different markets value amenities differently. Adding a central air conditioner in Macon, Georgia will add significant value, while putting one in a home located in Minneapolis, Minnesota might not have much impact.  Cost does not necessarily equal value.