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How to Find a Trustworthy Home Appraiser

Finding a trustworthy home appraiser may feel like navigating through a maze. You want to get a fair and accurate evaluation of your property, but amidst a sea of professionals, how do you identify the right one? 

This question is not only relevant but essential for homeowners considering selling their property or looking to refinance their mortgage. It may also be necessary when you're going through a divorce and need to know the value of the home you shared with your ex-spouse.

Why you might need a home appraiser

A home appraisal is necessary in various situations, each with its own goals and benefits. 

You’re planning to sell

The most common scenario is when you're planning to sell your home. An official appraisal report gives you an unbiased estimate of your home's worth, helping you set a realistic selling price that attracts potential buyers while ensuring you don't undervalue your property.

You’re looking to refinance

If you're looking to refinance your mortgage, a home appraisal is crucial. Mortgage lenders need to see an appraised value to determine the amount they're willing to lend since your home serves as collateral for the loan. A high appraisal can lead to more favorable loan terms.

Are you thinking about getting a home equity loan or buying out your ex’s share of your marital property? Hello Divorce offers a free Home Equity Buyout Calculator for your convenience.

You’re settling an estate

Home appraisals are also necessary when settling an estate. When a property owner passes away, an appraisal helps determine the market value of the property for tax purposes and equitable distribution among heirs.

The goal of a home appraisal in any situation is to provide an objective, accurate assessment of a home's value. This process takes into account factors such as the home's size, location, condition, improvements, and comparable homes in the area.

By getting a home appraisal, you gain valuable insight into your property's market value. This information is critical in making informed decisions whether you're selling, refinancing, or dealing with estate matters. It ensures you're not underestimating your property's worth or overpaying in taxes or mortgage payments.

What is the dollar value of the house you shared with your spouse? This knowledge is necessary for fair property division and the division of your community property.

Qualities to look for in a home appraiser

When choosing a home appraiser, there are several key qualities to consider, which we'll discuss in a moment. To find a good home appraiser, start by asking for referrals from real estate professionals or people you trust. You can also search online, looking for highly rated home appraisers near you. Look up their reviews and speak with them, asking about their familiarity with your local market and divorce.

Experience

You want an appraiser with extensive experience in the field. An appraiser's experience can greatly impact their accuracy as they assess the value of your home. Someone with extensive experience is more likely to have a well-honed ability to evaluate properties and a deep understanding of market trends.

Positive reviews

Positive reviews are another essential factor. Look for appraisers with glowing recommendations from previous clients. This can be a good indicator of their professionalism, reliability, and the quality of their work.

Appropriate licensing

Licensing is another critical aspect to check. Appraisers should be state-licensed or certified. You can typically verify an appraiser's license through your state's appraisal board. A licensed or certified appraiser has undergone rigorous training and meets the standards set by the Appraisal Foundation's Appraiser Qualifications Board.

Familiarity with your market

Another vital attribute is an appraiser's familiarity with the local market. Real estate values can vary dramatically from one neighborhood to another. An appraiser who knows the local market will be able to accurately assess your home's value based on comparable properties in your area.

Familiarity with divorce

If you're going through a divorce and deciding what to do with your family home, it's beneficial to find an appraiser with experience with this specific situation. Divorce proceedings often require a home appraisal to equitably divide assets. An appraiser experienced in divorce situations will understand the legal requirements and sensitivity needed during this process.

Suggested: Getting a Home Appraisal for Divorce: How Does It Work?

Verifying credentials

There are several ways to find information about a home appraiser's track record, qualifications, and reputation.

Online reviews: Websites like Yelp, Google, and Angie's List allow users to leave reviews for professionals, including home appraisers. These platforms can provide valuable insights into an appraiser's reliability, professionalism, and quality of work from those who have used their services.

Professional networks: Professional organizations such as the Appraisal Institute or the American Society of Appraisers have directories of their members, which often include their qualifications, areas of expertise, and sometimes reviews or ratings.

State licensing boards: Most state licensing boards have online databases where you can verify an appraiser's license status. These databases may also show if the appraiser has any disciplinary actions on their record.

LinkedIn: This professional networking site can provide information about an appraiser's professional background including their education, certifications, and work history. Some appraisers may also have recommendations or endorsements from colleagues or clients on their profile.

Company website: If the appraiser is part of a larger firm, check out the company's website. You might find information about the appraiser's experience, areas of specialty, and perhaps even testimonials from previous clients.

Direct contact: Don't hesitate to reach out to the appraiser directly. Ask them about their experience, whether they're familiar with your local market, and if they can provide references from past clients. A reputable appraiser should be more than willing to answer your questions and provide the necessary information.

Choosing the right appraiser is an important step in accurately determining the value of your family home. It’s worth it to take the time to thoroughly research your options before hiring someone.

Free download: Property Division Spreadsheet