|The right appraiser can get
you a better price for your house
house is probably the biggest single investment you've made. When
relocating you'll want to make sure it's appraised properly so you
get the best return on your money. A key factor in that equation
is the appraiser.
We talked with Gary Deane of the National
Association of Master Appraisers in San Antonio, Texas, to find
out what to look for when selecting a residential real estate appraiser.
You can look up real estate appraisers in the Yellow
Pages, ask people you know for references or check with any of the
half-dozen or so national associations such as Deane's. But once
you've done that, your homework is just beginning -- you'll need
to question the individual appraiser about his education and level
"Ask how they're licensed -- state licensed or certified," says
Deane. "There's a uniform national standard but some states have
kicked it up a bit. Ask if they're a member of a national association
-- see if they hold a designation that has to be earned through
According to Deane, a licensed appraiser is the beginning
"It doesn't mean they're not good, they're in the
process of being moved up to certified. They can't make an appraisal
on their own, they have to have it approved by a certified appraiser."
To become licensed an appraiser must have 2,000 hours
of experience, 90 hours of classroom education and pass a state
exam. Certification requires an additional 30 classroom hours. A
master senior appraiser has two years' experience, 165 hours in
the classroom and has passed a state exam.
Ask for a resume. Deane says most appraisers will
have a brochure, a marketing tool, to convince you to use them.
It would list credentials, training, areas of specialization, how
long they've been in business and which associations they belong
Deane says membership in an association involves more
than paying dues.
"They have to meet certain requirements, education,
pass exams, agree to abide by a code of ethics and keep up with
appraiser at work
Once you find an appraiser hang around while he's doing the job.
Watch what he's doing and feel free to ask questions.
"They'll be measuring and checking out the structure
-- they're not a home inspector but they need to know the general
condition of the house, septic systems and other environmental issues,"
Be sure to ask for a copy of the appraisal. Unless
you hired the appraiser yourself you won't automatically get a one.
If the bank hired the appraiser then the bank is the client, even
though you're paying for the appraisal. By law you have to be given
a copy if you ask for it. Deane says look it over thoroughly; there
have been cases where a whole room has been left off.
A full-fledged appraisal will give you a combination
of the "comps" and the specific condition of your own house. "Comps"
are a value comparison of comparable houses in comparable condition
in your neighborhood. The appraiser will check what the other houses
have sold for in the past 12 months. Deane says most appraisers
will use three comps.
The specific condition of your house refers to its
age, size, roof, foundation, whether it has lead paint, and other
"Maybe you added a pool or a second floor, that may
make your house over-priced for the neighborhood and the appraiser
will value it down," says Deane. "The homeowner says 'I put in $20,000
worth of remodeling,' -- you don't necessarily get that back."
higher value than tax appraisal
Generally, Deane says, the appraiser will come in with a higher
value than the tax assessor will. For example, in San Antonio, Texas,
the tax appraisal is usually about 85 percent of a private appraisal.
Most appraisals should come within $5,000 of comparable
homes in the neighborhood. If there's a $25,000 difference, something's
wrong -- get another appraisal.
Deane says appraising real estate isn't totally scientific,
there's some opinion in it -- what one appraiser sees as a plus
another may see as standard.
And, finally, Deane says, most appraisers should spend
at least one or two hours on your property and several more hours
in their office arriving at the value of your home.
"If they're there 15 minutes and then gone, I'd be
-- Posted: Nov. 15, 1999
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