What is an appraisal?
The definition of an appraisal is multi-faceted. An appraisal in general terms is the act of estimating or judging the value of something. The definition of a real estate appraisal takes on a much more specific meaning; an estimate of value as for sale, assessment, or taxation; valuation.
The purchase of real estate is one of the most significant investments most people will ever make. Primary residence, secondary vacation property, or one of many parcels owned for the purpose of renting, the purchase or real property is a complex process that requires several parties working together in unison to make it all happen.
The appraisal inspection is where the process starts. An appraiser will come to the property / house in question, and thoroughly inspect its key elements. Careful measurements will be taken and recorded to ensure an accurate assessment of living area square footage. Pictures will be taken of the inside and outside of the property taking special care to note any upgrades that have been done to the property, and any physical deficiencies or damage that are present. Careful inventory of replaced appliances, floor types / conditions / & age, the condition of the heating and cooling appliances, and building materials / construction design are all recorded for later analysis. An accurate floor plan is sketched and recorded for inclusion in a report that is prepared at the conclusion of the analysis. The process is minimally invasive, and generally takes between 30 and 60 minutes, but depending on the complexity, can and sometimes does take much longer.
Once the physical inspection is complete, the next step is to examine the neighborhood and immediate area surrounding the property. What special characteristics, if any, do the homes in this particular area share? Is the neighborhood right next to a busy road or highway? Is there shopping and other necessary services nearby? If the property is located in a planned unit development, is there an entry gate, and if so, is it manned by security? What other method of entry is there for the convenience of the residents? These are all factors to consider when examining the neighborhood and immediate area surrounding the property in question.
Many other factors play a key role in determining the value of a property that is being appraised. The sales history of the property is carefully examined, as is the zoning of the area where the property is built. Sometimes the land that a home is built on becomes more valuable undeveloped; the property would be worth more if the dwelling that sits on it were demolished and removed. Sometimes zoning laws change and properties that were once legal, could no longer be reconstructed should the dwelling be damaged or demolished for any reason.
What other properties in the immediate area share similar age, building style, construction type, condition, living area, square footage, amenities, and appointments as the property being appraised? Have any of them recently sold, and if so, how recently did they sell? What was the price paid for each of these properties, and how similar are these properties to the subject being appraised. Several properties will be selected and compared to the subject property being appraised to help determine its market value, or, value as compared to similar properties nearby.
Value Conclusion & Reporting
After careful consideration of all of the factors involved, an appraiser then reaches a value conclusion. This is a very well considered and educated estimation of the value of the property in question. An appraiser has a legal and ethical obligation to be objective in their assessment of value of real property, and must not in any way let their opinion of value be influenced by bias or bias parties. If it is determined that an appraiser has acted in a way that influenced his or her objectivity, the appraiser can be reviewed, sanctioned, fined, and even have their license revoked. The process of obtaining a state license to be an appraiser can be quite difficult, so it is not something an appraiser takes lightly.
Once a value conclusion has been reached, a careful report is prepared by the appraiser. The type report and detail contained therein can vary greatly, but is typically prepared on carefully organized reporting forms that have a very specific data requirement and reporting criteria so as to be most compatible with systems commonly used by lending institutions. The appraisal report can also be completed in a very generic format, using general terms to make the conclusion easy to understand for people who do not have industry specific knowledge. The type and content of these reports is much different if the person they are prepared for is a lender / bank versus a private owner who just wants to know what their property is worth.
Additionally, laws and regulations require that an appraiser create and keep a ‘work file’ for 5 years (up to 7 in certain situations). This work file will contain information and evidence sufficient to support a value conclusion. Regulators and industry leaders have the right to request a copy of this work file at any time for inspection and consideration, so an appraiser is required to keep detailed notes and information in these files at all times.
Many times in the process of performing an appraisal, a homeowner will ask, “Will I get a copy of the appraisal when it is finished?”. The answer is, ‘sometimes’. It depends on who orders the appraisal, and what the appraisal is being used for. For instance, if a lender orders an appraisal on a property for the purpose of determining is value for a mortgage, then the person / organization that receives the report would be the lender. It is then up to the lender to determine who gets a copy of the appraisal, and who does not. It is a violation of the law and the ethical codes and professional guidelines an appraiser is required to strictly follow, for an appraiser to discuss, deliver, or provide any type of value conclusion to parties other than those specifically designated by the party that orders the appraisal. If you ask an appraiser ‘what they think’, you will very often get an extremely generic answer that does not include any opinion of value. This is because any opinion or general information about value that an appraiser gives to anyone, can be considered a professional appraisal in a court, or if brought before a board of professional investigation. In many cases it is illegal and / or unethical for an appraiser to discuss value without giving that value careful and measured consideration before doing so.
Trust Longview Appraisals to help you determine the value of your property in Bonita Springs, Florida.
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