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Carol Caffey Owen Appraiser has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Carol Caffey Owen Appraiser is willing to talk to you about any inquiries you might have about appraisals in Arlington and Tarrant County. Feel free to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
Describe what an appraiser does
What are the reasons a person would need a real estate appraisal?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What are the contents of an appraisal report?
Upon completion of the appraisal, what assurance is there that the final number is veritable?
What does it mean for an appraiser to be licensed?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Tarrant County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Once complete, who actually owns the appraisal report?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?

Describe an appraisal   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraisal is an estimation that concludes with an opinion of value. The appraiser must use a number of "approaches," typically three, to conclude the estimation of market value. The Cost Approach is one of the approaches that appraisers use to find value; it involves discerning what the improvements would cost minus physical depreciation, plus the land value. Easily the most common approach in finding the likely sales price of a home is the Sales Comparison Approach which involves making a comparison to similar houses close by. Generally speaking, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most accurate indicator of market value of a residential property. The Income Approach is mainly used for figuring out the market value of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of income a property produce.

Describe what an appraiser does   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraiser forumlates a professional, unbiased assessment of market value, in the support of real estate exchanges. Appraisers reveal the details of their expert findings in appraisal reports.

What are the reasons a person would need a real estate appraisal?   (Go to list of  questions)

There are a lot of reasons to purchase an appraisal from Carol Caffey Owen Appraiser with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for purchasing an appraisal include:
  • To get a loan.
  • If you would like to reduce your property tax burden.
  • To help a homeowner realize if they owe less than 80% of their home's value and remove Primary Mortgage Insurance.
  • To contest high property taxes.
  • To deal with an estate.
  • To give you an edge when purchasing real estate.
  • To find a likely price when putting your home on the market.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS need an appraisal on every property.
  • If you ever find yourself in a civil case.
Click here for a more detailed explanation of the process dealing with getting an appraisal.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (Go to list of  questions)

The appraiser is not a home inspector nor does he/she do a complete home inspection. A third-party home inspector will investigate the structure of the property, from the roof to the foundation. The stereotypical house inspector's report will contain an evaluation of the integrity of the home's heating systems, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and accessible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?   (Go to list of  questions)

Frankly, it's apples and oranges. The CMA relies on vague market trends. The appraisal is reliant on similar verifiable comparable sales. The appraisal report will also contain location and construction values. A CMA delivers a "ball park figure." An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

The person behind the report is frankly the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is written by a real estate agent who may or may not be trained in technical valuation concepts or even have a handle on market trends. A certified, Texas licensed professional who has formed their livelihood on valuing real estate in and around Tarrant County creates the appraisal. Likewise, the agent has something at stake since they get a commission based on the property's selling price - their commission - whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to collect only a flat sum for work they perform, regardless of their value conclusion.

What are the contents of an appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

Every report should reflect a supported value opinion and should document the following:
  • The client and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • The intended use of the appraisal.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.
  • Pertinent property attributes, including: location, physical characteristics, legal attributes, economic factors, the property rights valued, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, trade fixtures and even intangible factors.
  • Any known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and the like.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • What was included in the activity of completing the appraisal.
For a more in depth view of the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report

Upon completion of the appraisal, what assurance is there that the final number is veritable?   (Go to list of  questions)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must make sure of the following:
  • The appraisal used a suitable analysis of the data.

  • Whether individually or collectively, there were no critical errors contained in the appraisal, nor any material details left out.

  • That appraisal services were delivered in a careful and conscientious fashion.

  • The final appraisal report was clear, credible and conclusive.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must fulfill considerable education and experience requirements that give us the background to formulate an unbiased opinion. Likewise, appraisers must follow a meticulous industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for carrying out an appraisal and communicating its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

   (Go to list of  questions) Regulations regarding licensing and certification are different from state to state. In general, licensing and certification is commonly associated with many hours of coursework, tests and experience working under a supervisor. Once licensed, he or she must then complete continuing education courses so that the license doesn't expire. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who are an appraiser's customers?   (Go to list of  questions)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's most likely client, requiring their services to ensure a home involved in a mortgage transaction is adequate collateral for a loan. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Tarrant County or other areas?   (Go to list of  questions)

One of the main tasks an appraiser performs is to collect data. Data can be described as either Specific or General. Specific data is from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered by the appraiser while on site.

General data is gathered from a numerous places. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) provide information on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. To verify actual sales prices, we research tax records and other public documents. Appraisers often have to report when a property lies in a flood zone, so that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

And last but not least, the appraiser gathers general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from doing assignments for other houses in the same market.

What can a full appraisal do for me?   (Go to list of  questions)

Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. When selling your home, an appraisal helps you set the most appropriate price. When buying, be sure you're not overpaying by commissioning an independent appraisal. For people settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Carol Caffey Owen Appraiser is the best way to ensure assets are split up fairly. Simply put, a house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Without knowing its real value, wise financial decisions are impossible.

My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?   (Go to list of  questions)

PMI is the common abbreviation for for Private Mortgage Insurance. This supplemental plan takes care of the lender in case a borrower defaults on the loan and the market price of the home is lower than the balance of the loan. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

The savings from getting rid of the PMI required when you got your mortgage pays for the appraisal in a matter of months. Carol Caffey Owen Appraiser stays current with real estate value trends in Arlington and Tarrant County. Contact us today.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (Go to list of  questions)

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. On the home's interior, pick up any clutter and make sure we can find our way to things like furnaces and water heaters. In the yard, trim any landscaping so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of exterior walls.

To help speed things along as well as ensure a more accurate report, attempt if possible to have the following items:
  • Information on any written private agreements, such as a shared driveway with a neighbor.
  • List of personal property to be sold with the building.
  • Information on "Homeowners Associations" or condominium covenants and fees.
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker's data sheet and Purchase Agreement if a sale is "pending".
  • A list of "suggested" improvements if the property is to be appraised "as complete".

How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?   (Go to list of  questions)

In real estate appraising, Market Value (as opposed to Fair Market Value) is commonly defined as:

"The most probable price (in terms of money) which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and 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: the buyer and seller are typically motivated; both parties are well informed or well advised, and acting in what they consider their best interests; a reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market; payment is made in terms of cash in United States dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and 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."

Once complete, who actually owns the appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders the appraisal, either directly or through a third party. Even though it's the buyer that eventually pays for the report, the lender is the intended user. The buyer is certainly entitled to a copy of the report - it's usually included with all 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 scenarios, the appraiser may stipulate the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.

Which home renovations add the most to the price?   (Go to list of  questions)

It really depends on the market. For example, while quality appliances are attractive, a $7000 built-in refrigerator won't pay off in a neighborhood of moderately priced homes

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 weren't far behind, returning 85%. On the contrary, work that may not add value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.