Frequently Asked QuestionsWE'RE HERE to meet all your Houston area real estate needs!
What is an Appraisal?
A real estate appraisal is a defensible and supportable estimate or opinion of market value as of a given date, performed by a qualified and certified or licensed real estate appraiser.
What is market value?
Estimating the market value of a property is usually the goal of an appraisal. There are numerous technical definitions of the term market value, but in layman’s terms, Market Value is usually defined as the most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale. It is assumed that the buyer and seller are typically motivated, well informed or well advised and each acting in their own best interest.
Who can do a real estate appraisal?
A real estate appraisal should be performed by a state certified or licensed real estate appraiser at a minimum. We suggest looking for further qualifications such as the SRA designation awarded by the Appraisal Institute for members who qualify. Other qualifications to consider would be amount of experience in the local market place, quality of referrals, and affiliations with local professional organizations.
How long does it take to do a real estate appraisal?
It depends on the property type and location. Complex properties such as a large regional mall would obviously require more time and effort than an individual home. Most homes can be done in approximately five business days. The actual time spent in the home by the appraiser will most likely be less than one hour. Need an appraisal faster than that? Contact us with your special needs. I’m certain we can help you out.
Who will see your appraisal?
A real estate appraisal report is confidential information for our client only. This report will go to no one without our client’s written permission to do so. No public or private entity has any right to your appraisal report and does not receive any information from your appraisal. This includes local appraisal districts, city, county, state or federal governments. The appraisal report is your property. By state and federal law, the real estate appraiser is required to keep a copy of your appraisal for a period of five years. Under penalty of law, that same statute prohibits the appraiser from providing any information to anyone without the client’s permission. Should you need a real estate appraisal for mortgage lending purposes or any other purpose where another entity needs a copy of your appraisal, we will be happy to forward it to them with your permission.
Do we need to come inside your home?
That depends on the purpose of the appraisal. Obviously, the better we know your property, the more accurate our appraisal will be. From time to time, we are asked to do a drive-by appraisal. We can do this as long as everyone involved understands the risks involved and the corresponding lack of accuracy associated with such an appraisal product.
Can we appraise proposed improvements or even proposed new construction?
With a set of plans and specifications, we can appraise almost anything. As a matter of fact, a large portion of our appraisal work is done for proposed construction or renovations. If you are considering spending a large amount of money on proposed construction, don’t you think the relatively small price of an appraisal is a reasonable insurance that you will recover your expenses in the form of increased value? A real estate appraiser is an expert in property values and can tell you which improvements will add value to your property.
Is it possible to spend money on property improvements and not add value to the property?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes. Many property owners have spent thousands of dollars improving their property only to find that it did not result in any increase in the overall value of the property.
Can I get an appraisal as of a date in the past?
Yes. We can do an appraisal as of any date in the past. Why would I need an appraisal like that? We do many real estate appraisals as of dates in the past, and the reasons are numerous. Examples include appraisals as of the date of death of a relative for estate purposes, or in the instance of a divorce, it could be the date that one spouse discontinued financial support for the mortgage payment. We can appraise a property as of the day before a fire caused major damage or a flood ravaged the property. As I stated above, the reasons are as varied as our clients.
Who are typical users of real estate appraisal Products?
Who are typical users of real estate appraisal Products? The majority of our clients tend to be mortgage lending institutions. Most mortgage lenders will require an appraisal of a property before providing a loan on that property. Commercial banks use our products when providing construction funds for proposed developments. Attorneys and Accountants rely on our values when calculating real property values for estates, divorces, or other disputes requiring a value being placed on real property. We have been contracted on issues ranging from deficient construction techniques to dimunition of value associated with easements, cell towers, high tension power lines, murder-suicides, relocation of roadways or other utilities and an assortment of other factors. Individual homeowners regularly call on us to help determine an asking price or a an offering price for a given piece of property, to aid in tax assessment reduction, to Remove PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) from their monthly mortgage payment, or to help make other financial decisions related to the use and enjoyment of real property. If you think you need an appraisal, contact us to discuss the situation. We wont sell it to you if you don’t need it.
What are the qualifications of a real estate appraiser?
A certified real estate appraiser in the state of Texas must have a minimum of two years experience. They must also have attended a minimum number of hours of professional appraisal courses and passed the exams for those courses. In addition, there is a state test which must be passed. Continuing education is a requirement. Prior to sitting for the state test and as a part of continuing education, the appraiser is regularly updated on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). A certified appraiser represents the minimum requirements only. For appraisers who have exceeded the minimum standards and have gone further to educate themselves, look for the SRA or MAI designations conferred by the Appraisal Institute. The Appraisal Institute is the world’s leading appraisal organization. Members of the Appraisal Institute hold themselves to higher ethical standards and have greater continuing education requirements. These individuals are among the best of the best in the appraisal profession.
What if I need a real estate appraisal outside of Brubaker and Associates Houston, Texas Coverage area?
Will every appraiser on my property come up with the same value?
It would be unlikely that ten different qualified appraisers would come to the exact same value conclusion. The ten different values should however be within a relatively tight range of values. This assumes that the appraisals were all done at the same time and the appraisers all had similar access to the property. An appraisal that is a year old will most likely have a different value than one done today. Similarly, some appraisals today can be done on a drive-by basis where the appraiser never enters the property. Clearly, a drive-by appraisal can often be less accurate than an appraisal performed with the appraiser having complete access to the property. Additionally, appraisers have different levels of experience and capabilities. If you need an accurate appraisal, make certain the appraiser you have hired has both the knowledge and experience required to properly perform the task requested. Brubaker and Associates employs the most knowledgeable and experienced appraisers in the greater Houston area.
Is there an exact value for my property?
No. Most people think a property is worth what it sold for. This is not always true. Every buyer and seller has his own needs and objectives. Ultimately, the price a property sells for is a combination of those needs and objectives. We have seen a home sell for more simply because it was next door to the buyers sister. Commercial tenants are often willing to pay more for a property to avoid moving expenses. Often times a buyer is willing to pay more for an adjacent tract of land because it completes a package. The buyer in each of the above cases has his own needs and objectives. Many times a seller is willing to sell his property at a discount due to time constraints. Occasionally, as in the case of death or divorce, the property is a source of sadness and the seller just wants out. For every property, there is a reasonable range of values. The more unique the property is, the larger the range of values. More homogenous properties typically have a tighter range of values.
Is an appraisal similar to a home inspection?
Absolutely not. Home inspectors are highly skilled individuals who are licensed and regulated by the state. Appraisers are legally prohibited from doing Home Inspections unless they are licensed by the state to do so. The two functions are quite different. The appraiser is skilled at estimating the value of a property. The licensed inspector is skilled at determining the overall condition of the property. The appraiser assumes the individual elements that comprise the subject property to be fundamentally sound and in good working condition. References to property condition are based on superficial observations and are for comparison purposes only.
The appraiser referred to his inspection when he contacted me to set the appointment.
An appraiser’s inspection of the subject property is made for valuation purposes only. The “inspection” consists of a casual visual observation only. The appraiser makes no effort that exceeds his expertise in discovering non-obvious defects. During the course of his inspection, the appraiser will not move furniture, peer under floor coverings or behind artwork to uncover potentially hidden defects. The appraiser will not test appliances, mechanical systems, water supply or waste elimination systems. The appraiser is not a licensed or qualified inspector and will not warrant the condition of any portion of the subject improvements.
If I am buying a home, should I get both an appraisal and a home inspection?
We highly suggest a purchaser get both an appraisal and a Home Inspection performed by individuals well qualified in their fields. Considering the magnitude of your investment in a home, the cost for an appraisal and an inspection are relative bargains. A prudent purchaser will make his offer contingent on both a satisfactory real estate inspection and an appraisal. Parties concerned about the condition of the property should consult the services of a qualified and state licensed real estate inspector. Should an inspection by a qualified inspector reveal any defects, the appraiser should be notified so the appraisal report can be modified to reflect these findings.
My lender says I don't need an appraisal. Should I get one anyway?
We suggest the buyer retain a knowledgeable appraiser experienced in the property type being appraised. What looks like a bargain based on your experience of home prices in San Diego may not be a bargain at all in Houston. We suggest all buyers include in their offers a phrase saying their offer is contingent upon the property appraising at contract price or above or something similar in content. If your lender is getting an appraisal for you, insist on seeing it before closing.
What can I do if the appraiser made a mistake?
Appraisers are human and mistakes can happen. Contact the appraiser and report the error. If the appraiser is wrong, he will most likely be eager to correct the appraisal report and deliver to you a corrected copy. Many times, the appraisal is ordered by, and delivered to someone other than the property owner such as a lender. In that instance, contact the lender and report the error.
My Realtor is suggesting I get an appraisal on my property before I list it. Is this a good idea?
An appraisal is not necessary to list a property. In my experience, Realtors generally suggest retaining an appraiser if a property is unusual or otherwise particularly difficult to price. You may question the Realtor as to the intended use of the appraisal. It has been our experience that an appraisal is a poor marketing tool. I have seen too many listings where the agent reports in MLS having an appraisal for say $100,000 only to find that it sold for less than that. Buyers don’t want to pay fair market value for a property. They want a deal! If you advertise having an appraisal at $100,000, no one will offer you $105,000. On the other hand, an appraisal is a good decision making tool. If you get an appraisal on your property, don’t tell anyone. There’s an old saying; Knowledge is power. But in negotiations, if you give away your knowledge, you give away your power. If you receive an offer significantly lower than appraised value, you can confidently reject the offer. If you receive an offer at or above the appraised value, take it! If your needs require a quick sale, offers at somewhat less than appraised value may be considered.
Should I let the appraiser set my list price?
Proper pricing on a property is an art form and is dependent on your objectives. Your list price may be different if you want a quick sale. If a quick sale is not necessary, the list price can reflect that. Pricing is probably best left to your Realtor after having discussed all your needs and objectives. An appraisal can however be an excellent starting point.
If I get an appraisal on my property; who sees the report?
You own the appraisal. Nobody will see it unless you give it to them. The appraiser is prohibited by, both state and federal law as well as professional ethics from providing any information on the appraisal to any one else without your permission. This includes taxing authorities and other governmental entities.
What if my lender gets an appraisal on my property? Who owns the appraisal?
Your lender owns the appraisal. They will most likely give you a copy if requested.
The appraiser says my property is in a flood zone. Is he right?
Maybe. The exact location of the subject’s site cannot be determined accurately by an appraiser. Further, the flood maps provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are often inadequate to delineate the boundaries of the subject site. Information provided by an appraiser should be considered preliminary at best. Only a licensed surveyor has the qualifications and skills required to accurately determine the subject’s flood location status.
What is an appraiser?
According to USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice), an appraiser is one who is expected to perform valuation services competently and in a manner that is independent, impartial, and objective. Clients hire appraisers to help them resolve valuation problems. Some problems are complex and some are more straightforward.
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