First Advantage Appraisal Service has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"
What is an appraisal?
What is an appraisal?(Back to top) The process of performing an appraisal report consists of an inspection which forms an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is found through the use of a formal process that usually utilizes the three main "common approaches to value". One of the methods in use is the Cost Approach, which is what it would cost to restore the improvements to the house, minus depreciation and physical deterioration, plus the land value. Another of the methods is the Sales Comparison Approach - which concerns discovering a comparison to other similar properties within a close vicinity which have recently sold. Usually, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most definite indicator of market value of a house. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is of most importance in appraising income producing properties - it deals with estimating what an investor would pay based on the money generated by the property.
Describe what an appraiser does(Back to top) An appraiser offers an objective and well supported opinion of market value, often in the context of a real estate exchange. Appraisers reveal the details of their professional analysis in appraisal reports.
What are the reasons someone would require services from First Advantage Appraisal Service?(Back to top) There are a lot of reasons to order an appraisal from First Advantage Appraisal Service with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for ordering an appraisal report include:
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?(Back to top) To be blunt, it's apples and oranges. The CMA relies on vague local market trends. The appraisal is reliant on specific proven comparable sales. Also, the appraisal checks other factors like condition, neighborhood and replacement prices. A CMA delivers a "ball park figure." Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.
But the largest differentiator is the person creating the report. A CMA is created by a real estate agent who may or may not be trained in technical valuation concepts or even have a handle on market trends. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Likewise, the agent has a vested interest in the property's selling price - their commission - whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to collect only a flat fee for work they perform, regardless of their value conclusion.
What can I expect to see in my appraisal report? (Back to top)The main objective of an appraisal report is to let the reader know the value of the real estate in question, and depending on the scope of the report, you'll usually see the following:
Once the appraisal is done, what assurance is there that the value conclusion is accurate?(Back to top) In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must ensure the following:
Who engages the services of appraisers?(Back to top) Typically, appraisers are employed by mortgage lenders to render a value opinion on a house involved in a loan transaction - to make sure the real estate is indeed adequate collateral for the loan. Attorneys and CPAs also retain the services of appraisers for divorce and estate settlements.
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Anne Arundel County or other areas?(Back to top) One of the primary things an appraiser does is to gather property data. Data can be classified as either Specific or General. Specific data is taken from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are documented by the appraiser while on site.
General data is received from a variety of places. To find out about recent sales to be used as "comps", an appraiser will often use the local Multiple Listing Service. To double-check actual sales prices, we use items in the assessor's office and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Flood zone data is retrieved from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood product.
And last but not least, the appraiser assimilates general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from creating appraisals for other houses in the same market.
What can a full appraisal do for me?(Back to top) Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. When selling your home, an appraisal will help you determine a price that maximizes profit and reduces time on the market. When buying, be sure you're not overpaying by commissioning an independent appraisal. If you're engaged in an estate settlement or divorce, it ensures that property is divided fairly. Simply put, a house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Don't make decisions in the dark with a professional appraisal.
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?(Back to top) PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI takes care of the lender in case a borrower is unable to pay on the loan and the market price of the property is lower than what the borrower still owes on the loan. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.
Do you need anything from the homeowner in advance?(Back to top) We start with an inspection of the property. During this process, we 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 several photos of your house for inclusion in the report. The best thing you can do to help is make sure we have easy access to the exterior of the house (gates aren't locked, etc). Trim any shrubs and relocate any items that would make it difficult to measure the structure. Indoors, make sure we can get to appliances like furnaces and water heaters.
To help speed things along plus ensure a more accurate report, try if possible to have the following items:
What does "Market Value" mean?(Back to top) In real estate appraising, Market Value is commonly defined as:
Who has rights to the appraisal report?(Back to top) In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. While the 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 buyer is entitled to a copy of the appraisal - it's usually bundled with all the other closing documents - but is not entitled to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.
This rule doesn't apply when a home owner hires 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 do whatever they want with the appraisal.
How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?(Back to top) The answer to this is different depending upon the location of the home. For example, putting in an inline humidifier could be nice in arid regions, but completely useless near the coast!
As a rule, the most value returned from renovating a home comes in the kitchen. According to one national survey, kitchen remodels returned an average of 88% of the investment. In other words, a $10,000 kitchen remodeling project would add approximately $8,800 to the value of the home. Bathrooms are right up there with kitchens, yielding 85%. Adding bedrooms and baths can also help the value of your home as long as your home doesn't then become an oddball for your neighborhood in terms of size.