Frequently Asked Questions
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"Real Estate Appraisal Explanation from Quicken Loans"
An appraisal is defined as an opinion of value by professional appraisal standards (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, see below). Appraisers consider appraising to be both an art and a science. You probably have an opinion of the value of your home. Your opinion and a professional appraiser's opinion may be the same. But appraisers are required to be objective and impartial in their analyses and opinions. A professional appraiser has been trained in appraisal methodology and looks at how your home compares with sales and listings of homes similar to yours, considers many factors such as price trends and proximity to a freeway, complies with professional standards, and usually completes a written report.
An appraiser is a real estate professional who specializes in providing opinions of value (appraisals). Most appraisers are real estate appraisers, who specialize in real property. Other appraisers specialize in other types of property, such as gems or machinery and equipment. Professional appraisers have taken courses and been supervised during their training period. State licensed and certified appraisers must pass a test and have completed basic education and continuing education. Most states also require a period of supervision, usually 2,000 hours before being able to do appraisals "on your own."
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The appraisal is "owned" by the client who ordered it (engaged the appraiser). If a lender ordered it, the lender owns it, even if you paid for it. If you ordered it for nonlending purposes, you own it.
When getting a mortgage loan, the lender selects the appraiser. On rare occasions, an out of the area lender will as the borrower to find an appraiser.
Property owners, buyers, and sellers, or their attorneys, often hire their own appraisers for
- Determining a fair sales price
- Property disputes (views, easements, etc.)
- Eminent domain (government agency "takes" property)
- PMI removal (private mortgage insurance)
- Partnership dissolution
No one knows your property as well as you! Make a list of all the special features, such as a remodeled kitchen or new roof, or at least tell the appraiser about them. Let the appraiser know if a nearby home was listed and sold, as sometimes sales don't show up on the local MLS or other data sources.
Appraisers are required to be objective real estate observers, reporters, and analysts. Ethically, appraisers cannot accept an appraisal assignment contingent on a certain appraised value, direction in value, or minimum or maximum value.
If the appraisal was done for lending purposes and you think the appraiser has missed higher sales that could have been used in the appraisal, or missed valuable features in your home such as a remodeled kitchen, contact your loan officer with specific information such as the address of a sale.
If you think fraud was involved or the appraiser was very inexperienced, lazy, or just plain stupid, contact your state appraisal licensing agency. You will need to have more than "I think the value was too low (or too high)." You need the "why" also...didn't use nearby similar homes that sold recently, missed a swimming pool, etc.