General Appraisal Questions

  Turnaround Time
The physical inspection of the real property being appraised can take from approximately fifteen minutes to several hours, depending upon the size and comlexity involved.

After the initial inspection of the property the appraiser spends time touring through the neighborhood or area. The purpose of this tour is to search for comparable sales (other properties that are similar to the property being appraised) that have sold within the last year or so. When the field work is finished, the appraiser completes the report at his office.

Typical turnaround time is three to five days. We also accomodate rush orders with turnaround of one or two days, depending on the urgency of the order.

  Is there anything I can do to speed up the process?
The following Items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time.

A survey of the house and property; The Sales Contract; A deed or title report showing the legal description; a recent tax bill; a copy of the original plans & specifications.

  Whats an Appraisal Anyways?
A home purchase is the largest, single investment most people will ever make. Whether it's a primary residence, a second vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most of the people involved are very familiar. The Realtor is the most common face of the transaction. The mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. The title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the buyer.

So who makes sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? There are too many people exposed in the real estate process to let such a transaction proceed without ensuring that the value of the property is commensurate with the amount being paid.

This is where the appraisal comes in. An appraisal is an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay - or a seller receive - for a parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. To be an informed party, most people turn to a licensed, certified, professional appraiser to provide them with the most accurate estimate of the true value of their property.

  Inspection of the Subject
So what goes into a real estate appraisal? It all starts with the inspection. An appraiser's duty is to inspect the property being appraised to ascertain the true status of that property. The appraiser must actually see features, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure that they really exist and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the proper square footage and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Once the site has been inspected, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a cost approach, a sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

  Sales Comparison Approach
Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they work. They understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. They know the traffic patterns, the school zones, the busy throughways; and they use this information to determine which attributes of a property will make a difference in the value. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are ''comparable'' to the subject being appraised. The sales prices of these properties are used as a basis to begin the sales comparison approach.

Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), the appraiser adjusts the comparable properties to more accurately portray the subject property. For example, if the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable home. If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

  Cost Approach
The appraiser uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to determine how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This value often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. Why would you pay more for an existing property if you could spend less and build a brand new home instead? While there may be mitigating factors, such as location and amenities, these are usually not reflected in the cost approach.

  Income approach
The income approach is based on an estimate of net income from the operation of an income producing property and the selection of the property capitalization rate from market indications of similar properties. The principle of anticipation is the basis of the income approach and affirms that value is created by the expectation of benefits to be derived from possession, operation and/or capital gain at resale.

  What is a comparable sale?
A comparable sale is a property, that is similar to the subject property in most respects, is located in a similar (nearby) location, and has sold recently at arms length. The selection of comparable sales is in most residential appraisals, the single most important determining factor in establishing value. It is the appraisers responsibility to adequately research the local real estate market and determine which comparable sales best represent the value characteristics of the subject property.

  What does highest & best use mean?
Typically, highest & best use means the use or utilization that provides the most profitable return on investment. It is that use, selected from reasonably probable and legal alternative uses, which are found to be physically possible, appropriately supported and financially feasible to result in the highest possible land value.

  Can I get a copy of an appraisal a lender ordered on my home?
Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, your lender must provide you with a copy of the appraisal report.

  Does an appraisal include an engineers report or whole house inspection?
The appraiser is not a whole house inspector, engineer, architect, electrician, plumber, H.V.A.C. technician or contractor. The appraiser briefly walks through the house to get an idea of the general condition and room count. An appraisal is not a guarantee of condition. The appraiser will ask about any visible problems and those which may not be visible, and will do his/her best to gauge any impact on value attributable to those problems. You are encouraged to seek the advice of experts if you have any questions about the structural or mechanical aspects of the house.

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