Home Appraisals: Make Sure You Read Them

Written by Posted On Sunday, 16 July 2006 17:00

Every lender requires one, but sometimes sellers and buyers don't always look them over carefully. And in some cases, buyers and sellers don't see their appraisals at all because they are asking the wrong person for the report.

Gerald A. McKinzie, owner of McKinzie Metro Appraisal, says that the only person an appraiser can give the appraisal to is the actual client. So if the appraisal is ordered by the lender then the mortgage company or bank will get the appraisal. "We can't give the appraisal to [the homeowner] because of appraiser ethics and I think this is pretty true nationwide. [Appraisers] cannot give the report or the conclusion of the report or their findings to anyone but their client," says McKinzie.

However, McKinzie says, your mortgage company, bank, or lending institution that ordered the appraisal can provide you with a copy.

The American Society of Appraisers says that an appraisal is important, now more than ever. With a fluctuating market, increased inventory, and housing prices dropping in many areas, the association says, having an appraisal is critical and valuable information. If you didn't receive an appraisal when you purchased your home, the association says that under federal law it is your right to receive one. The association highly recommends that you request a copy of it.

"Homeowners should point out anything they can to the appraiser who comes to do the inspection," says McKinzie. He says even things that might not be top of mind or easy to spot such as a new furnace should be mentioned. Also, remodeling, upgrades, new roofs, new flooring, and landscaping are important to mention to the appraiser.

"We have instances a lot of times where we find we're appraising a house in 2006 and the same house sold in 2003. Well the tendency for some appraisers would be to say, well it sold for $300,000 in 2003 and if I add so many percent per year this is what I get in 2006," says McKinzie. But he adds that what the appraiser might be overlooking "is that the person who bought [the house] in 2003 may have finished off the entire basement or they may have added a deck."

Appraisals are opinions of value that can affect the ability to borrow to purchase a home. Residential real estate appraisals are determined by using a Comparison Method. The appraiser compares your home to similar homes in the same neighborhood that have already sold in order to determine the value of your house.

Age, general size, construction quality, number of bedrooms and baths, lot size, garages, and pools are all comparison categories for the appraiser. The association says that reviewing your appraisal can give you hints about which areas are worth investing more money in when it comes to remodeling. For instance, if you have a home that has fewer bathrooms than the average home in your area, you might consider adding a bathroom. If you have an outdated kitchen this can cause your appraisal to come in at a lower value than a nearby, similar home that is up-to-date.

McKinzie says when you're ready to sell your home, "If the appraisal was done in the last five years you might get some idea where the appraiser says something negative about it such as house will not market as well because it has shag carpeting in the bedrooms on the second floor. If you see that in the appraisal and [the carpet] is still there then it might be time to correct that issue."

Reading your home appraisal will offer information and insight on how your home fits into the marketplace.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website: www.LiveFitMagazine.com.

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or phoebe@livefitmagazine.com. Visit PhoebeChongchua.com for more information.

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