Appraisal is a profession, and appraisers are professionals. In our field as with any profession we are bound by ethical considerations.
An appraiser's primary responsibility is to his or her client. Normally, in residential practice, the appraiser's client is the lender ordering the appraisal to decide whether to make the mortgage loan. Appraisers have certain duties of confidentiality to their clients -- as a homeowner, if you want a copy of an appraisal report, you normally have to request it through your lender -- obligations of numerical accuracy depending on the assignment parameters, an obligation to attain and maintain a certain level of competency and education, and must generally conduct him or herself as a professional. Here, we take these ethical responsibilities very seriously.
Appraisers may also have fiduciary obligations to third parties, such as homeowners, both buyers and sellers, or others. Those third parties normally are spelled out in the appraisal assignment itself. An appraiser's fiduciary duty is limited to those third parties who the appraiser knows, based on the scope of work or other written parameters of the assignment.
There are ethical rules that have nothing to do with clients and others. Appraisers must keep their work files for a minimum of five years.
We only perform to the highest ethical standards possible. We don't do assignments on contingency fees. That is, we don't agree to do an appraisal report and get paid only if the loan closes. We don't do assignments on percentage fees. That is probably the appraisal profession’s biggest no-no, because it would tend to make appraisers inflate the value of homes or properties to increase their paycheck. We don't do that. Other unethical practices may be defined by state law or professional societies to which an appraiser belongs.
The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) also defines as unethical the acceptance of an assignment that is contingent on "the reporting of a pre-determined result (e.g., opinion of value)," "a direction in assignment results that favors the cause of the client," "the amount of a value opinion," and other things. This means you can be assured we are working to objectively determine the home or property value.
You can be assured of 100 percent ethical, professional service.
Appraiser licensing varies from state to state. To participate in what is called a "federally-related transaction," which is, for example, a mortgage being underwritten by a national bank, an appraiser must be licensed or certified by his or her state. The license or certification is evidence that the appraiser has performed a certain number of hours as a trainee under the supervision of a practicing appraiser, may have passed an examination, and completes a certain number of hours of Continuing Education Training.
Prior to the Savings and Loan crisis of the 80s, which gave rise to appraiser licensing, appraisers had to market their expertise, service, professionalism and association designations. Many feel that state licensing has diluted the appraisal profession. Many consider licensure a bare minimum of what you should expect from an appraiser.
We have worked hard to establish a reputation for quality and prompt work, performed professionally and ethically, with outstanding customer service. You should never just look for a licensed appraiser; you should be discriminating in choosing your service providers. Tour our website for valuable information on the experience we have and the service we provide.
You should always be sure your appraisal service provider is licensed and in good standing. The Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) maintains a national database of appraisers and their license/certification status. It is available publicly at this link.
Among other things, this database, which relies on reports from each state appraisal board, will tell you if a service provider you are considering has had his or her license suspended, revoked, or whether the license has lapsed.You can rest assured that our license is current and in good standing!
Simply put, the difference is night and day. The CMA relies on vague market trends. The appraisal relies on specific, verifiable comparable sales. In addition, the appraisal looks at other factors like condition, location and construction costs. A CMA delivers a ''ball park figure.'' An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.
But the biggest difference is the person creating the report. A CMA is created by a real estate agent who may or may not have a true grasp of the market or valuation concepts. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Further, the appraiser is an independent voice, with no vested interest in the value of a home, unlike the real estate agent, whose income is tied to the value of the home.
Each report must reflect a credible estimate of value and must identify the following: The client and other intended users.
In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must ensure the following:
Regulations regarding licensing and certification of Real Estate Appraisers vary from state to state. However, licensing and certification is most often associated with many hours of coursework, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she is required to take continuing education courses in order to keep the license current.
Typically, appraisers are employed by lenders to estimate the value of real estate involved in a loan transaction. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.
Gathering data is one of the primary roles of an appraiser. Data can be divided into Specific and General. Specific data is gathered from the home itself. Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.
General data is gathered from a number of sources. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) provide data on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. Tax records and other public documents verify actual sales prices in a market. Flood zone data is gathered from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood product. And most importantly, the appraiser gathers general data from his or her past experience in creating appraisals for other properties in the same market.
Anytime the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. If you're selling your home, an appraisal helps you set the most appropriate value. 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. Knowing its true value means you can the right financial decisions.
The first step in most appraisals is the home inspection. During this process, the appraiser will come to 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 make sure the appraiser has easy access to the exterior of the house. Trim any bushes and move any items that would make it difficult to measure the structure. On the inside, make sure that the appraiser can easily access items like furnaces and water heaters.
The following Items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time:
Market value or fair market value is the most probable price that a property should bring (will sell for) in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:
(1) buyer and seller are typically motivated;
(2) both parties are well informed or well advised;
(3) a reasonable time is allowed for exposure to the open market;
(4) payment is made in terms of cash in U.S. dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and
(5) the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale.
In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. While the home buyer pays for the report as part of the closing costs, the lender retains the right to use the report or any information contained within. The home buyer is entitled to a copy of the report - it's usually included with all of the other closing documents - but is not entitled to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.
The exception to this rule is when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these cases, the appraiser may stipulate how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.
The answer to this is different depending upon the location of the home. Different markets value amenities differently. Adding a central air conditioner in Houston, Texas may add significant value, while putting one in a home located in Buffalo, New York might not have much impact.
As a rule, the most value returned from renovating a home comes in the kitchen. According to one national survey, kitchen remodels returned an average of 88% of the investment. In other words, a $10,000 kitchen remodeling project would add approximately $8,800 to the value of the home. Bathrooms were second, returning 85%.