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?
Property Tax Payments
It's a running joke that everyone has a different perspective of what a house is worth. And it's the tax assessor that seems to always come in at the high end of the scale! Challenging the tax assessment has become an annual ritual in many parts of the country. Unfortunately, most people go into these challenges unarmed. They may pull some information from the internet to support their claims, but have no real basis other than: "It wasn't worth that much last year."
A real estate appraiser can help. While it may not be economical to commission a full appraisal to lop a few hundred off your tax bill, often an appraiser can do a limited appraisal or neighborhood analysis for much less. These documents can carry a lot of weight when you appear before an appeals board.
Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI is the supplemental insurance
that many lenders ask home buyers to purchase when the amount being loaned is
more than 80% of the value of the home. Very often, this additional payment is
folded into the monthly mortgage payment and forgotten. This is
unfortunate because PMI becomes unnecessary when the remaining balance of the
loan - whether through market appreciation or principal paydown - dips below
this 80% level. In fact, the United States Congress passed a law in 1998 (the
Homeowners Protection Act of 1998) that requires lenders to remove the PMI
payments when the loan-to-value ratio conditions have been met.
Many appraisers offer a specific service for home owners that believe they have
met the 80% loan-to-value metric. For a nominal fee, the appraiser can provide
you with a statement regarding the home value. Some will even take the next
step and help you file a challenge with your mortgage company. The costs of
these services are very often recovered in just a few months of not paying the
Before someone decides to sell a home, there are several decisions to be
made. First and foremost: ''How much should it sell for?'' But first there
may be other equally important questions to ask: ''Would it be better to
paint the entire house first?'' ''Should I put in that third bathroom?''
''Should I complete my kitchen remodel?'' 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.
Appraisers can step in and help make these decisions. Unlike a Realtor, an
appraiser has no vested interest in what amount the house sells for. His fee
is based on his efforts, not a percentage of the sales price. So seeking a
professional appraisal can often help homeowners make the best decisions on
investing in their homes and setting a fair sales price.
Estate Planning, Liquidation or Divorce
The loss of a loved one is a difficult time in life. Likewise, a divorce can
be a particularly traumatic experience. Sadly, these events are often
complicated by difficult decisions regarding the disposition of an estate.
Unlike many wealthy individuals, the majority of Americans do not have
dedicated estate planners or executors to handle these issues. Also, in most
cases, a home or other real property makes up a disproportionate share of the
total estate value.
Here too, an appraiser can help. Often the first step in fairly disposing of
an estate is to understand its true value. Where property is involved, the
appraiser can help determine the true value. At this point, equitable
arrangements can more easily be arrived at among disputing parties. Everyone
walks away knowing they've received a fair deal.
There are other uses for real estate appraisals. The highly-trained
individuals behind these services are always looking for ways to put their
expertise to work for home owners and the people who support them.
1st Quality Appraisals, Inc.
Yucca Valley, CA 92284
Phone: (909) 578-8011
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm
Or use our contact form.
Before your appraisal be sure to take care of cosmetic deferred maintenance items. Clean up inside. Weed and mow the lawn. The better maintained a home is adds value to a home. A sparkling clean appearance gives the impression that your home has been well-maintained and cared for over the years.