An appraisal is an important part of many real estate transactions. An appraisal is typically done if a buyer requires a mortgage loan to purchase a property. The appraisal is done by an appraiser (who is licensed), and it’s based on multiple data gathered during an inspection by the appraiser. When it comes to appraisals, there are many myths or misconceptions around them. Whether you’re looking to buy a home, looking to refinance a current mortgage, or you’re looking for more information about all that goes into real estate transactions, here are some of the most common myths when it comes to appraisals.
An Appraisal is the same as a Home Inspection
While both an appraisal and home inspection provide important information to all parties, the two are not the same. An appraisal is done to determine the value of a property, generally for the benefit of a lender. The appraiser will inspect a property for improvements and deficiencies but only to determine the overall value of a property. A home inspection, on the other hand, is an inspection, but its main purpose is to look at the ‘guts’ of a property, assessing the overall condition, and inspecting the major systems, appliances and structure to determine the shape of a property. The appraisal is done to determine the value of a property; a home inspection (which isn’t required) is done to determine the overall health of a property.
Assessed Value, Appraised Value and Market Value are all the Same
For many properties and in many states, the idea that the assessed value, appraised value and the market value are equal is understandable. But, in many areas and instances, this isn’t the case. Assessed value is determined by an assessor (who works for a city, town or county) and is usually used to levy taxes; if the assessor doesn’t actually physically inspect the property, s/he won’t know if any improvements (remodeling projects, interior updates, additions, etc.) have been done. The same can also be said if nearby properties have not been reassessed for a long period of time or they don’t reflect the area’s current real estate market. Appraised value is determined by an appraiser, and is a result of a detailed physical inspection of a property and research done on the neighborhood and any nearby recently sold properties. Market values are consumer-driven and can be influenced by a buyer – if a buyer is willing and able to pay more for a property, then the market value is what the buyer is willing to pay. While all three values can be similar, all three also have the chance of being vastly different.
The Appraiser is Hired by the Buyer
An appraisal is required when a home is being purchased with a mortgage loan; a current homeowner is looking to refinance his/her existing mortgage; or when someone is selling a home to someone that is not an all-cash buyer. The appraisal acts as a security for the lender to understand the value of the property when making the loan decision. Due to federal changes several years ago, although the lender orders the appraisal, the lender does not hire a specific appraiser; the appraiser comes from a ‘pool’. For the majority of property transactions, the buyer is responsible for the cost of the appraisal (sometimes a seller will cover the cost of the appraisal, but this is unique, and for the most part the buyer or borrower pays the costs through the lender). There are times when a seller may want to get an appraisal to get an idea of a home’s value before listing the property – in this case, the seller would hire the appraiser and pay for the appraisal.
The Appraisal Varies Whether it’s For the Buyer or Seller
Typically, an appraiser has no vested interest in the price of a property – s/he doesn’t represent any particular person. The appraiser should complete an independent and objective appraisal, simply performing the service of determining a property’s appraised value. Appraisals can be done for a number of reasons: insurance, home loans, tax losses, estates, liquidation and net worth. Because of this, depending upon the purpose of the appraisal, the market value and appraised value can vary, but the appraiser does not complete an appraisal in favor of the seller or the buyer.
Appraisers Use a Formula to Determine the Value of a Property
The way in which appraisers determine the value of a property is very detailed. An appraiser will analyze all aspects of a property: location, condition, size, proximity to amenities and other facilities, and s/he will also consider the recent sale prices of comparable properties in the area. Other items that are considered in the appraisal: number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the floor plan functionality. The appraiser does a visual and physical inspection of the interior and exterior of the property. S/he will take into consideration the type of flooring in a home; the materials used in the kitchens, bathrooms, and other rooms; the siding and any other recent upgrades. An appraiser will also consider things that need to be repaired, and other miscellaneous items. Far from a specific formula, appraisers use a lot of data to determine the appraised value of a property and an appraisal can take a number of hours to complete depending on the size of a house and complexity of the property.