Understand a Real Estate Appraisal

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If you buy a house or refinance one, through a lender, you will have to have an appraisal. The reason it is required is FHA insures the loan, VA quarantees the loan and conventional loans are federally related. The easiest way to explain the process is from the beginning.

There are three types of residential appraisers. There are also timber, agricultural, industrial and other appraisers. Most residential appraisers are not allowed to do those and even if they are usually they will reject the request because they don’t have that kind of expertise. There are licensed, certified and general appraisers. Usually the licensed appraiser has the least education and can do an appraisal up to a certain value. I always find this a little stupid since you can’t know the value until you are done with the appraisal. What do you do, complete it and then tell the lender, oops I’m sorry, I can’t give you the completed appraisal because it exceeded my limit. Certified appraisers can usually do any value of residential property and up to a certain amount in commercial. General can pretty well appraise anything, Trump’s ......

Usually appraisers receive the assignment, request, contract with the contact information and address. From there begins the initial file work. A search is done of the area , then of the neighborhood, determining types of housing, age range, price range, marketing time....Hopefully at that time there is adequate information to make one trip. A call is made to the contact, usually a homeowner or agent. Sometimes the house will be on a lockbox, which makes it convenient for everyone, especially the appraiser, if it works. First an oblique picture is taken of the front, rear and one of the street. The house is supposed to be measured on the exterior including porches, bay areas, garage, etc. Then the square footage is calculated in the living area, which excludes unfinished, unheated areas, such as the garage, a utility room and open areas above the first floor.

Think of an appraisal like a physical exam. Everything, I mean, everything , from the front door (insulated steel entry) to the floor (ceramic tile) to the windows (insulated double hung) and the screens (full) is noted. When he or she started the file some of the information they were looking for was three recent, similar sales that occurred in the same neighborhood. That’s the perfect condition but it doesn’t always happen. I should say it never happens in rural areas unless there is a new development. So if the subject’s size was fairly close to accurate (taken from most public records, mls, agent or plans and specs) then the appraiser has it made , almost. With map in hand they go on to the comparables. A front picture and notes are all that’s needed there. Back to the office they go. Please rate and tell friends.

Suzie is a licensed real estate broker and certified residential appraiser with twenty years of experience who hopes to make a positive difference in the industry one step and one person at a time. Other qualified experts in the field are contributing as well.

Please email your thoughts and ideas to [email protected] with appraisal in the subject line.

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