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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an appraisal?

    An appraisal report is an evaluation leading to an opinion of value. An appraiser must consider a few approaches, typically three, to estimate the value: the cost approach, the sales comparison approach, and the income approach. The cost approach involves finding what the improvements would be worth minus physical depreciation plus land value; another method is the sales comparison approach, which concerns finding a comparable analysis to other similar properties within a close vicinity that have recently sold. The sales comparison approach is normally the most definitive and best indicator of cost for a residence. The income approach is generally used for finding the worth of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of capital a property produces.

  • What does an appraiser do?

    The primary purpose of an appraiser is to provide an unbiased opinion of market value to help with financial transactions. The appraiser displays his or her complete investigation in a report.

  • Why would a person need a home appraisal?

    Joseph A. Porter & Associates offers appraisals for various reasons, including real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for getting an appraisal include:

    • To lower your property taxes.
    • When you’re applying for a loan.
    • To display the replacement cost of insurance.
    • ​​To manage an estate a loved one left behind.
    • To give you an edge when buying real estate.
    • To protect your rights in a condemnation case.
    • To challenge high or unmanageable property taxes.
    • Because a government agency like the IRS requires it.
    • To identify a reasonable price when selling real estate.
    • If you’re involved in a lawsuit, an appraisal will greatly help your cause.
  • What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

    Appraisers do not perform house inspections, nor are they home inspectors. A third-party home inspection company inspects a home’s structure from the top to the foundation. A typical report will explain the amenities and requirements of the house: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical services, heating system condition, and plumbing; structural integrity such as attic access, accessible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, and windows and then foundation and basement visible structures.

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

    While there are similarities, a comparative market analysis (CMA) and an appraisal have several important differences. A CMA, for example, is based on market trends; appraisals use similar sales, which are valid resources. Location and construction values are also precedents in an appraisal. All a CMA does is generate a “ballpark figure.” An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value. But the biggest difference is the person creating the report: a licensed, certified professional who has made a career valuing properties as opposed to a real estate agent who may or may not have a true grasp of the market or valuation concepts. The appraiser is an independent voice with no vested interest in the value of a home, unlike an agent whose income is tied to the home’s value.

  • What does the appraisal report contain?

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

    • The client and other intended users.
    • The scope of work used to complete the assignment.
    • The intended use of the report.
    • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment, and partial holding.
    • The purpose of the assignment.
    • All known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, and contracts; special assessments; ordinances; and other items of a similar nature.
    • The type of value reported and the definition of the value reported.
    • Property characteristics relevant to the appraisal include location, physical, legal, economic, and real property interest value, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, including trade fixtures and intangible items.
    • The effective date of the appraiser’s opinions and conclusions.
  • After completing the report, what assurance is there that the value indicated is valid?

    In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser has the responsibility to ensure the following:

    • That the information analysis utilized in the appraisal was appropriate.
    • That a credible, supportable appraisal report was communicated.
    • That appraisal services were not rendered in a careless or negligent manner.
    • That significant errors of omission or commission were not committed individually or collectively.

    Most states require that real estate appraisers are state licensed or certified. Licensed or certified appraisers provide unbiased opinions based on extensive education and experience requirements. Appraisers must fulfill rigorous education and experience requirements to become licensed or certified. Furthermore, appraisers must comply with an industry code of ethics and national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for developing an appraisal and reporting its results are ensured by enforcing the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

  • How are appraisers certified?

    Regulations regarding licensing and certification of real estate appraisers differ from state to state but often include many hours of coursework, tests, and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she must take continuing education courses to keep the license current.

  • Who do appraisers work for?

    Lenders usually employ appraisers to estimate the value of a real estate property in a loan transaction. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters, and investment decisions.

  • Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate value?

    Gathering data is a primary role of an appraiser. Data can be divided into specific, as gathered from the home itself, and general, as gathered from a number of sources. The specific data collected during an inspection includes location, condition, amenities, size, and other details. General data is gathered from local multiple listing services (MLS) and tax records. Flood zone data is gathered from FEMA data outlets such as Metro Appraisals’ InterFlood product. And most importantly, appraisers gather general experience using past experience in creating appraisals for other properties in the same market.

  • Why do I need a professional appraisal?

    Anytime the value of your home or other property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal will help you set the most appropriate value for selling it. 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. A home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. An appraisal helps ensure you know the property’s true value to help you make informed financial decisions.

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

    PMI, or private mortgage insurance, protects lenders against loss on home loans with down payments of less than 20%. When the equity in your home reaches 20%, you can eliminate PMI and start saving money immediately.

  • How do I get ready for the appraiser?

    The first step in most home appraisals is an on-site inspection. During this process, the appraiser will visit 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 to ensure the appraiser has easy access to the house’s exterior. Trim any bushes and move any items that would make it difficult to measure the structure. On the inside, ensure the appraiser can easily access items like furnaces and water heaters. Other items that might help include the following:

    • A survey of the house and property.
    • A copy of the original plans.
    • A deed or title report showing the legal description.
    • A list of personal property to be sold with the house, if applicable.
    • A recent tax bill.
  • What is "Market Value?"

    Market value, also known as fair market value, is the price that a property should bring (would sell for) in a competitive and open market under all circumstances necessary for a fair sale, provided that both the buyer and the seller act carefully, wisely, and without an undue boost to the price. The completion of a sale as of a particular date and the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer under the following circumstances are implicit in this definition: (1) buyer and seller are typically motivated; (2) both parties are well informed or well advised; (3) a reasonable amount of time is given for exposure to the open market; (4) payment is made in cash in U.S. dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto;

  • Who Actually Owns the Appraisal Report?

    In most real estate transactions, the lender orders the appraisal. The home buyer pays for the report as part of closing costs and is entitled to a copy of the report. In some cases, an appraiser may stipulate how an appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, estate planning, or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, however, the homeowner can use the appraisal for any purpose.

  • Which home renovations add the most to the price?

    Depending on the location of a home, different amenities are valued. In Houston, Texas, central air conditioning is often a high-value improvement; in Buffalo, New York, it might not be. In general, the most value returned from renovating a home comes from improvements to the kitchen. According to one national survey, kitchen remodels returned an average of 88% of their investment. That means a $10,000 kitchen remodeling project would add approximately $8,800 to the home’s value. Bathrooms were second at 85%.

  • What is the role of a property valuation expert in real estate?

    A property valuation expert assesses the market value of properties, providing crucial insights for buying, selling, or financing real estate.

  • What distinguishes commercial appraisal specialists from residential appraisers?

    Commercial appraisal specialists focus on evaluating the value of commercial properties, including office buildings, retail spaces, and industrial complexes.

  • How can real estate appraisal services benefit homebuyers and sellers?

    Real estate appraisal services help buyers make informed decisions and sellers set competitive prices, leading to smoother transactions.

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