What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is a professional appraiser's opinion of value. The preparation of an appraisal involves research into appropriate market areas; the assembly and analysis of information pertinent to a property; and the knowledge, experience and professional judgment of the appraiser. The role of the appraiser is to provide objective, impartial and unbiased opinions about the value of real property - providing assistance to those who own, manage, sell, invest in and/or lend money on the security of real estate.

At minimum, all states require appraisers to be state licensed or certified in order to provide appraisals to federally regulated lenders. Appraisers have fulfilled rigorous educational and experience requirements and must adhere to strict standards and a code of professional ethics. Qualified State Certified appraisers bring knowledge, experience, impartiality and trust to the transaction. In so doing, they help their clients make sound decisions with regard to real property.

Most appraisals are reported in writing, although in certain circumstances, an appraiser may provide an oral appraisal. A written appraisal report generally consists of: a description of the property and its locale; an analysis of the "highest and best use" of the property; an analysis of sales of comparable properties "as near the subject property as possible"; and information regarding current real estate activity and/or market area trends. The value indicated by recent sales of comparable properties, the current cost of reproducing or replacing a building, and the value that the property's net earning power will support are the most important considerations in the valuation of real property.

In addition to residential or commercial appraisal - and depending upon an appraiser's designation and qualifications - he or she may be able to assist with the following:

 Estate planning and estate settlements

 Tax assessment review and advice

 Advice in eminent domain and condemnation property transactions

 Dispute resolution-including divorce, estate settlements, property partition suits, foreclosures, and zoning issues

 Feasibility studies

 Expert witness testimony

 Market rent and trend studies

 Cost/benefit or investment analysis, for example, what will be the financial return on remodeling

 Land utilization studies

 Supply and demand studies

The following questions would be appropriate when selecting an appraiser:

 Are you licensed or certified in the state in which you live?

 How long have you been in practice?

 What level of experience do you have in this particular market and with this type of property?

 Are you familiar with property in this neighborhood?

 What types of clients have you had (homeowners, estates, lenders, relocation companies)?

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