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Shirley E. Mitchell Real Estate Appraisals has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Shirley E. Mitchell Real Estate Appraisals is happy to elaborate on any questions you might have about appraisals in Travis County. Contact us today to talk about how we can help you with your specific valuation problems.

Define the term "Appraisal"
Describe what an appraiser does
What are the reasons someone would need services from Shirley E. Mitchell Real Estate Appraisals?
How is an appraiser different than a home inspector?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What are the contents of an appraisal report?
Once the assignment is done, what guarantee is there that the final number is veritable?
What goes into an appraiser's certification?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Travis County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Should I do anything in advance of the appraisal inspection
Define "Market Value"
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?

Define the term "Appraisal"   (Top)

An appraiser provides an evaluation that leads to an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is concluded by a formal process that usually utilizes three "common approaches to value". One of the methods in use is the Cost Approach, which evaluates what it would cost to restore the improvements to the property, less the depreciation and physical dilapidation, adding the land value. Another of the approaches is the Sales Comparison Approach - which involves finding a comparable analysis to other similar nearby properties which have recently sold. Usually, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most accurate indicator of market value of a house. The Income Approach is generally used for determining the market value of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of income a property would bring in.

Describe what an appraiser does   (Top)

An appraiser produces an unbiased and well supported opinion of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers present their findings in appraisal reports.

What are the reasons someone would need services from Shirley E. Mitchell Real Estate Appraisals?   (Top)

There are many reasons to purchase an appraisal from Shirley E. Mitchell Real Estate Appraisals with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for getting an report include:
  • If you are applying for 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 insurance.
  • To fight inflated property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To offer you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To figure out a reasonable price when listing your home.
  • To defend your rights if your property is being taken by means of eminent domain in a condemnation case.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • It's possible you could have to deal with being in a lawsuit - an appraisal will help.
Click here for a more extensive explanation of the process of getting an appraisal.

How is an appraiser different than a home inspector?   (Top)

Appraisers do not do provide house inspections and are not home inspectors. A third-party home inspector will judge the structure of the home, from the roof to the foundation. The archetypal house inspector's report will include an evaluation of the integrity of the house's heating system, 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.

My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?   (Top)

Frankly, it's like comparing broadband and dial-up. The CMA uses market trends to conduct most of their business. The appraisal is based on similar definite comparable sales. In addition, the appraisal looks at other factors like condition, location and construction costs. A CMA delivers a "ball park figure." An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

But the most significant factor is the person creating the report. Real estate agents, who may not have a true grasp of valuation methods or the entire market, generate CMA's. A certified, state licensed professional who has formed their livelihood on valuing homes in and around Travis County is behind the appraisal. Moreover, the appraiser is an independent voice, with no conditional interest in the value conclusion, unlike the agent, who gets a commission based upon the value of the home.

What are the contents of an appraisal report?   (Top)

The main purpose of an appraisal report is to provide a value opinion, and depending on the scope of the report, you'll usually see the following:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the appraisal.
  • The reason for the assignment.
  • The type of value reported and a definition of that value.
  • The effective date of the appraiser's opinions and conclusions.
  • Relevant property characteristics, including: location, physical characteristics, legal attributes, economic factors, the real property interest in question, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, items that are more or less permanently installed and even intangible factors.
  • All 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 involved in the process of completing the job.
For a more detailed look at the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report

Once the assignment is done, what guarantee is there that the final number is veritable?   (Top)

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

  • Whether individually or collectively, there were no crucial errors contained in the report, nor any relevant details left out.

  • That appraisal services were not conducted in a careless or negligent fashion.

  • That a believable, defensible appraisal report was imparted.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are intense education requirements as well as real world experience that must be attained - all with the end goal of gaining the skills required to render unbiased value opinions. In addition, appraisers must obey a stringent industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for carrying out an appraisal and reporting its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

   (Top) Licensing and certification requires classroom study, tests and real world experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she is required to take 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?   (Top)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's most likely client, requesting their services to ensure real estate involved in a mortgage transaction is enough to cover a loan balance in the case of default. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Travis County or other areas?   (Top)

One of the primary things an appraiser does is to assimilate data. Data can be classified as either Specific or General. Specific data is gathered from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are documented by the appraiser while on site.

General data is collected from a number of places. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) provide information on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. Tax records and other public documents reveal actual sales prices in a market. Flood zone data is gathered from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood system.

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

How can a licensed appraiser help me?   (Top)

An appraisal is a valuable tool anytime your home's value is relevant to a financial decision. If you're selling your home, an appraisal helps you set the most appropriate price. If you're buying, it makes sure you don't overpay. For those settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Shirley E. Mitchell Real Estate Appraisals is the best documentation to ensure assets are split up fairly. Simply put, a house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Don't make decisions in the dark with a professional appraisal.

What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Top)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. This supplementary policy guards the lender if a borrower is unable to pay on the loan and the value of the home is lower than the balance of the loan. Once you can prove the amount you owe on your home is less than 80% of the home's market value, you can make a case to your lender to drop the PMI.

Did you secure your mortgage with less than 20% down? Contact Shirley E. Mitchell Real Estate Appraisals today at 9037386538. You may be able to save money by removing your Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

Should I do anything in advance of the appraisal inspection   (Top)

The first step in most appraisals is the property 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, make sure it is clutter free and that we can access things like furnaces and water heaters. In the yard, trim any bushes so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of exterior walls.

The following items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time:
  • Information on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years.
  • List of personal property to be sold with the building.
  • Most recent real estate tax bill from Travis and or legal description of the property.
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and enhancements, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of Energy efficiency upgrades or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • A list of "suggested" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

Define "Market Value"   (Top)

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."

Who has rights to the appraisal report?   (Top)

For mortgage transactions, the lender requests 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 appraisal - it's usually bundled with all the other closing documents - but is not allowed to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

This rule doesn't apply when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these scenarios, the appraiser may define how the appraisal can be used; 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.

I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?   (Top)

A home's location - what city it is in and even what part of that city - is key to this popular question. For example, installing an inline humidifier could be nice in arid regions, but completely useless near the coast!

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, an improvement that may not add value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.