Fisher-Vogt Appraisals has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Fisher-Vogt Appraisals is prepared to answer any inquiries you might have about appraisals in Bath and Steuben County. Feel free to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
Describe what an appraiser does
Why would I request services from Fisher-Vogt Appraisals?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What does the appraisal report contain?
Once the report has been delivered, what guarantee is there that the value conclusion is valid?
How are appraisers certified?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Steuben County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Does the appraiser need anything from the homeowner in advance?
What is "Market Value?"
Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?
How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?

Describe an appraisal   (List of questions)

The appraisal process is an evaluation that generates an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which helps the appraiser come to this opinion or estimate. The Cost Approach is one of the approaches that appraisers use to find value; it involves finding what the improvements would cost less physical depreciation, plus the land value. Another of the processes is the Sales Comparison Approach - which deals with discovering a comparison to other similar properties within a close vicinity which have recently sold. Generally speaking, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most accurate indicator of market value of a house. The Income Approach is mainly used for figuring out the market value of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of capital a property would bring in.

Describe what an appraiser does   (List of questions)

An appraiser provides a professional, unbiased opinion of market value, often in the context of a real estate exchange. Appraisers summarize their professional findings in appraisal reports.

Why would I request services from Fisher-Vogt Appraisals?   (List of questions)

There are many reasons to order an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for ordering an report include:
  • To obtain a loan.
  • To reduce your tax burden.
  • To demonstrate a homeowner's acquired equity and remove PMI.
  • To challenge improperly assessed property taxes.
  • To handle an estate.
  • To offer you a negotiating tool when purchasing real estate.
  • To figure out an honest price when selling real estate.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you ever find yourself in a civil case.
For a more detailed description of the appraisal process click here.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (List of questions)

Home inspectors do not figure out an opinion of value and are not appraisers. A third-party home inspector will evaluate the structure of the home, from the top to the foundation. The standard property inspector's report will contain an evaluation of the condition of the property's heating systems, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and visible 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?   (List of questions)

Frankly, it's like comparing Shakespeare to reality TV. The CMA depends on vague market trends. The appraisal depends on specific verifiable comparable sales. The appraisal report will also include area and building values. A CMA delivers a "ball park figure." An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

The credentials of the person behind the report is hands down the most significant difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Real estate agents, who may not have a complete understanding of valuation methods or the entire market, write CMA's. A certified, state licensed professional who made their livelihood on valuing homes in and around Steuben County creates the appraisal. Likewise, the agent has a vested interest in the property's selling price whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to collect only a previously agreed upon fee for assignments, regardless of their outcome.

What does the appraisal report contain?   (List of questions)

The main purpose of an appraisal document is to give a value opinion, and depending on the scope of the report, one will customarily see the following:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the report.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • The type of value contained and a definition of the value reported.
  • The effective date of the appraisal.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Characteristics of the property that have a bearing on the value, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest valued, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, items that are more or less permanently installed and even intangible items.
  • Any known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and other items of a similar nature.
  • 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 comprehensive view of what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report

Once the report has been delivered, what guarantee is there that the value conclusion is valid?   (List of questions)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must see to it that each of the items below are covered:
  • The appraisal contained an apropos analysis of the data.

  • That grave errors of omission or commission were not committed individually or collectively.

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

  • The final appraisal report was clear, credible and defensible.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are extensive education requirements as well as experience that must be logged - all with the objective of being able to render unbiased value opinions. Plus, appraisers must follow a strict industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for carrying out an appraisal and reporting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

   (List of questions) Regulations regarding licensing and certification of Real Estate Appraisers vary from state to state. In general, licensing and certification is commonly associated with many hours of coursework, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she is required to engage in 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?   (List of questions)

Commonly, appraisers are employed by mortgage lenders to estimate the value of a home involved in a loan transaction - to make sure the subject is truly adequate collateral for the loan. Attorneys and CPAs also hire appraisers for asset division and estate settlements.

Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Steuben County or other areas?   (List of questions)

One of the most important tasks an appraiser engages in is to assimilate data. Data can be categorized as either Specific or General. Specific data is taken from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are gathered by the appraiser while on site.

General data is gathered from a variety of sources. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) provide information on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. To double-check actual sales prices, we look at tax records and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Appraisers routinely have to report when a property is in a flood zone, and that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

And most importantly, the appraiser assembles general data from his or her past experience in creating appraisals for other houses in the same market.

What can a full appraisal do for me?   (List of questions)

An appraisal is a valuable tool anytime your home's value is relevant to a financial decision. When selling your home, an appraisal assists you in setting a price that maximizes profit and reduces time on the market. When buying, you can avoid overpaying by commissioning an independent appraisal. If you're engaged in an estate settlement or divorce, it ensures that property is divided fairly. 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?   (List of questions)

PMI is an acronym for Private Mortgage Insurance. This added plan protects the lender in the event a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the market price of the house is less than what is owed on the loan. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

Does your monthly house payment include a fee for PMI?Call Fisher-Vogt Appraisals today at (607) 664-1181 or send us an e-mail. Documentation of your home's current value could save you thousands.

Does the appraiser need anything from the homeowner in advance?   (List of questions)

We begin with an inspection of the property. What this entails is the appraiser, after setting up an appointment, personally going through the home - recording the layout of the rooms, taking photos and documenting the general status of its features. On the home's interior, pick up any clutter and make sure 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 outside walls.

You can make the inspection go faster and improve the quality of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • A survey or plot map of the property and building (if readily available).
  • List of personal property to be sold with the building.
  • Information on "Homeowners Associations" or condominium covenants and fees.
  • Find copies of the current listing agreement, broker's data sheet and, if the sale is "pending", the purchase agreement.
  • Most recent real estate tax bill from Steuben and or legal description of the property.

What is "Market Value?"   (List of questions)

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."

Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?   (List of questions)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. 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 included with all the other closing documents - but is not entitled to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these situations, the appraiser may define the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.

How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?   (List of questions)

The added value of a particular amenity truly depends on the local market. For example, installing an inline humidifier could be nice in arid regions, but completely useless near the coast!

No matter where you go, however, renovating a kitchen is almost always a safe move. One recent study revealed that putting $20,000 into a kitchen remodel would add about $17,500 to the value of the home - or about an 88% return on investment. Bathrooms are right up there with kitchens, returning 85%. On the contrary, an improvement that may not add value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.