What Does a Home Appraiser Do?
Navigating the labyrinth of real estate can often feel like deciphering a foreign language. One term that frequently pops up, yet remains a mystery to many, is “home appraisal.” Whether you're looking to buy, sell, or simply increase your real estate knowledge, understanding the function of a home appraiser is an essential piece of the puzzle.
A home appraiser’s job
A home appraiser's primary task is to determine the fair market value of a property. This is achieved by conducting a thorough inspection, considering various factors such as the property's location, condition, size, and proximity to amenities, and comparing it to similar properties that have recently sold in the area.
During the inspection, the appraiser evaluates the exterior and interior of the home. They assess the structural integrity, quality of construction, and state of essential systems like heating, plumbing, and electrical. They also take into account any significant improvements or renovations that could add to the property’s value.
Once the inspection is complete, the appraiser compiles the data into an appraisal report, providing a detailed analysis and final valuation of the property. This report plays a crucial role in real estate transactions, particularly in mortgage lending where it helps lenders decide the amount they're willing to loan for the property.
As for qualifications, becoming a home appraiser requires a blend of education, certification, and experience. In the U.S., for instance, aspiring appraisers must first complete a certain number of hours of classroom training from an approved educational provider. The requirement varies by state but generally includes basic principles of appraisal and information about the housing market.
Most states require a specific number of hours of practice under the supervision of a licensed appraiser. This hands-on experience is invaluable, as it allows the aspiring appraiser to gain practical knowledge of the field and apply the theories learned in the classroom.
Why you might hire a home appraiser
There are numerous situations where hiring a home appraiser can be beneficial. It's not just limited to buying or selling a house. Here are some reasons why you might need the services of a home appraiser.
If you're considering refinancing your mortgage, the lender will require an appraisal to determine the current market value of your home. This helps them decide how much they can safely lend you.
Estate planning or settlement
When dealing with estate planning or settlement, an appraisal is necessary to determine the value of the property. This ensures fair distribution of assets among heirs or beneficiaries.
Insurers often require a home appraisal to accurately assess the cost of replacement in case of damage.
Tax assessment appeals
If you believe your property's tax assessment is higher than it should be, a professional appraisal can provide the evidence needed to challenge it.
A divorce can be a challenging time, and determining the equitable division of property is one of the most contentious aspects. An appraisal provides an unbiased valuation of the marital home. This is crucial in deciding who gets what, and it can help both parties receive a fair share, whether the home is to be sold and profits divided or one party buys out the other's share.
If you're an investor considering a property purchase, an appraisal can give you a clear picture of the property's worth, helping you make an informed decision.
Thinking about refinancing? Learn how to Refinance a Divorce Buyout.
What to expect if you hire one
When you decide to hire a home appraiser, it's essential to know what to expect. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process.
- Find an appraiser. Start by searching for certified appraisers in your area. You can use online directories or ask for recommendations from your real estate agent, attorney, or lender. Be sure to check their qualifications, experience, and reviews.
- Set up an appointment. Once you've chosen an appraiser, contact them to set up an appointment. They should be able to work with your schedule, but keep in mind that this process may take a few hours.
- Have an initial meeting. During your first meeting, the appraiser will discuss the scope of work, explain the appraisal process, and provide an estimated timeline. This is the time to ask any questions you may have.
- Get a cost estimate: Appraisal fees vary based on the complexity of the appraisal and the property type. The appraiser should provide you with a cost estimate upfront so there are no surprises later on.
- Conduct the appraisal. The appraiser will conduct a thorough inspection of your property, assessing its condition, size and location while also considering comparable properties in the area. They may take photos, make sketches, and take notes during the visit.
- Receive the appraisal report. After the inspection, the appraiser will compile the data into a comprehensive report detailing their findings and conclusions about the appraised value of the house. This report is typically delivered within a week after the inspection.
Suggested: Calculating a House Buyout in Divorce
Home appraisers adhere to strict professional standards in order to give unbiased, accurate appraisals. In the U.S., these standards are outlined in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). USPAP sets ethical and performance standards for appraisers to ensure they provide impartial and reliable valuations. Violating these standards can result in disciplinary action, including loss of certification.
If you’re getting a divorce or even thinking about it, an appraisal of your marital home may be in your near future as you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse negotiate the division of your marital assets. At Hello Divorce, we understand that this process – along with the other complexities of divorce – can be daunting for divorcing couples. We’re here to help.
Click here to schedule a free 15-minute phone call with a representative who can tell you about our online divorce plans, legal advice, and other flat-rate services, all of which are designed to help you move through this big life change with as little cost and stress as possible.
Want to know how much your home equity is worth? Use Hello Divorce’s free Equity Split Calculator for Divorce.