Why Get an Appraisal?
There are several reasons why you may choose, or be required, to get an appraisal.
Home Purchase, Refinance, or Home Equity Loan
Estate and Trust Settlement
Marriage and Partnership Dissolution
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Removal
Remodeling Feasibility Studies
Selling a Home
Home Purchase, Refinance, or Home Equity Loan Top of Page
If you want to purchase or refinance a home, or consolidate your bills with a home equity loan, your lender will generally require a home appraisal. Federal and state law and current banking regulations require lenders to get appraisals for most loans secured by real estate; all appraisals made for mortgage loans from federally-insured lenders must be done by a licensed or certified appraiser. If the appraiser concludes that the property is over-valued, the lender may choose not to risk granting you a loan. Such appraisals protect lenders by assuring them that the property is worth what they are lending; appraisals also benefit you, the borrower, by providing an objective, third-party opinion as to the property's true market value, so you can make an informed purchase offer and investment decision
If you need to settle an estate after the loss of a loved one, one of the most important matters to resolve is how much the inheritance is worth. Often real property (a home, business, or land) comprises the bulk of the estate. In such situations, an appraisal can facilitate the fair and harmonious division of the estate by providing an independent professional opinion of value. An experienced and perceptive appraiser can ease family tensions and provide an appraisal tailored to the information that a particular inheritance settlement requires. Moreover, the code of ethics contained within the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) commits appraisers to confidentiality, thus assuring you of the highest degree of discretion.
Marriage and Partnership Dissolution: Top of Page
The dissolution of a marriage or business partnership can be traumatic for all parties. In a divorce, this settlement is often complicated by the difficult decision of "who gets the house?" In business partnerships as well, real property may be involved. Here again, knowing the true market value of the property is the first step toward an equitable and agreeable resolution or settlement. If the parties in a dissolution choose to sell the property, an appraisal can help them set its price; if one chooses to buy the other out, an appraisal offers the best chance for both parties to feel they've gotten a fair shake.
Corporations and government agencies often help new and transferring employees relocate, by paying moving costs, helping spouses find work, and assisting in home sale and purchase. Such assistance may involve a buyout of the transferee's existing home by the employer or a relocation company, or loss-on-sale assistance in cases where a transferee's home is appraised for less than the original purchase price. In such cases, a particular sort of appraisal is required: one that forecasts future value. Glen Wilson of G.R. Wilson Appraisal Services is trained and certified by the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council to conduct relocation appraisals.
You may find that you need an appraisal in order to remove PMI, the additional insurance that many lenders require home buyers to buy when their loan comprises over 80% of the home's value. Although the Homeowners' Protection Act of 1998 requires lenders to drop PMI when the loan-to-value ratio falls below 80%--whether because the home value has appreciated or the loan has been paid down--many lenders require an appraisal to confirm the homeowner's claims of a value increase. Getting an appraisal and eliminating your PMI payments can significantly reduce your monthly mortgage payments.
If you wish to make improvements on your property, but don't know whether it's wise or what to improve first, consultation with an appraiser can help. The appraiser can provide an unbiased opinion as to the current worth of your home and how much value particular improvements are likely to add. Going on local home tours and talking with realtors can also help inform you about what buyers value in your particular market. You may decide to invest in a remodeling project because of the improvement in lifestyle it offers, whether or not it makes economic sense. The important thing is that the project meets your expectations of performance with respect to the property's value.
Are you trying to decide whether to sell a property or where to set your selling price? Unlike a real estate agent, an appraiser has no vested interest in the sales transaction. An appraisal report or consultation will investigate current market conditions, trends, and expectations, and provide an opinion of the value of your house that is unbiased by anticipated sales commissions. This information can help you determine an appropriate sales and marketing strategy and set reasonable expectations for results.
Aside from these reasons, an appraisal may be useful or necessary to lower your tax burden, contest high property taxes, establish the replacement cost of insurance, protect your rights in a condemnation case or lawsuit, or because a government agency such as the IRS requires one.