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.
WHAT IS AN APPRAISAL?
An appraisal is an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay – or a seller receives – 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.
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. He or she 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.
REASONS TO GET AN APPRAISAL
Every year, countless people in the United States buy, sell or refinance their own slice of the American Dream. Most, if not all, of these transactions include a simple line item for an appraisal. It has become an understood and accepted part of a real estate transaction. “Let’s bring in the expert and make sure we’re not spending too much on this property.”
But is this the only reason to get an appraisal? Are there other times when the services of a certified, licensed, independent real estate professional might come in handy? You bet.
PURCHASE OF A HOME
A professional appraisal report performed by a qualified, state-licensed appraiser can provide you with an objective, third party opinion of a property’s current Market Value.
REFINANCE OR GET A HOME EQUITY LOAN
If you need to consolidate bills, have a college tuition to pay, or just want to tap into the equity of your home, you’ll need a new loan, which oftentimes requires a new appraisal of the property.
PMI becomes unnecessary when the remaining balance of the loan – whether through market appreciation or principal paydown – dips below 80% of the value of the home.
The loss of a loved one is a difficult time in life and settling an estate from a death, or probate, often requires an appraisal to establish Fair Market Value for the residential property involved.
HOME IMPROVEMENTS TO ADD VALUE
Before you decide to sell your home, there are several decisions to be made. First and foremost: “How much should it sell for?” Many things which we do to our houses have an effect on their value. Unfortunately, not all of them have an equal effect. While a kitchen remodel may improve the appeal of a home, it may not add nearly enough to the value to justify the expense.
SELLING A HOME
Unlike a real estate agent, an appraiser has no vested interest in what amount the house sells for. It’s easy for them to step in and give you the information to help you make your decision.
We understand the stress involved with an employee relocation. We take great care in establishing a convenient appointment time for the appraisal inspection.
In most divorce cases, the Court won’t usually force the parties involved to “buyout” the other party’s interest but it may however order the sale of the home so each party gets an equal share of the equity. Regardless of the situation, it’s a good idea to order an appraisal so both parties are fully aware of what the true market value is.