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Best Appraisal Group, Inc. has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Best Appraisal Group, Inc. is willing to address any concerns you might have about appraisals in York County. Feel free to contact us today.

What is an appraisal?
Describe what an appraiser does
What are the reasons a person would need your services?
Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?
Once the report is done, how can I have confidence that the final number is legitimate?
What are the requirements to be a certified appraiser?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does Best Appraisal Group, Inc. get the data used to estimate values in York County or other areas?
Why do I need a professional appraisal?
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
What does "Market Value" mean?
Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?
How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?



What is an appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser provides an evaluation that generates an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which helps the real estate appraiser conclude this opinion or valuation. One of the processes in use is the Cost Approach, which evaluates what it would cost to replace the improvements to the house, minus age and physical deterioration, adding the land value. Another of the methods is the Sales Comparison Approach - which deals with discovering a comparable analysis to other similar properties within a close proximity which have recently sold. Generally speaking, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most definite indicator of market value of a home. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is the most important method in appraising income producing properties - it deals with estimating what an investor would pay based on the capital generated by the property.

Describe what an appraiser does   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser provides a professional, unbiased assessment of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers reveal the details of their conclusions in appraisal reports.


What are the reasons a person would need your services?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are many reasons to get an appraisal from Best Appraisal Group, Inc. with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for getting an appraisal include:
  • To receive 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 deal with an estate.
  • To provide you a leg-up when purchasing real estate.
  • To figure out an honest property value when selling real estate.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS require an appraisal on every property.
  • If you ever find yourself in a civil case.
For a more detailed description of the appraisal process click here.


Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?   (See list of FAQ's)

Home inspectors do not come to an opinion of value and do not use the same forms as appraisers. An inspection is a third-party evaluation of the livable structure and electrical and mechanical systems of a property, from the roof to the foundation. Commonly, a home inspection report will explain the amenities and the requirements of the home: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical systems, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural integrity of the home such as the attic, exposed insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and other visible structures.

My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

To be blunt, it's night and day. What the CMA depends on are ill-defined trends. Appraisals use similar sales which are valid resources. Location and building prices are also important in an appraisal. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

The credentials of the person creating the report is actually the most significant difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is created by a real estate agent who may or may not have a true grasp of the market or valuation concepts. The appraisal is produce by a licensed, certified professional who makes a living out of valuing properties. Further, the appraiser is an unbiased party, with no vested interest in the property's value, unlike the agent, who gets a commission based upon the price of the home.

What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

The main point of an appraisal report is to provide a value opinion, and depending on the scope of the report, you'll usually see the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.(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 description, legal attributes, economic factors, the property rights valued, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, trade fixtures and even intangible considerations.
  • 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 included in the process of completing the appraisal.
For a more comprehensive look at the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the report is done, how can I have confidence that the final number is legitimate?   (See list of FAQ's)

In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must ensure the following:
  • That the information analysis contained in the appraisal was appropriate.

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

  • That appraisal services were not carried out in a careless or negligent manner.

  • The final appraisal report was easy to explain, credible and defensible.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must satisfy considerable education and experience requirements that give us the background to produce an unbiased opinion. In addition, appraisers must abide by a stringent industry code of ethics and observe national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The tenets for developing an appraisal and communicating its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (See list of FAQ's) Regulations regarding licensing and certification of Real Estate Appraisers vary from state to state. However, licensing and certification typically translates to many hours of coursework, tests and experience working under a supervisory appraiser. Once licensed, he or she must then engage in continuing education courses in order to keep the license up to date. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who are an appraiser's customers?   (See list of FAQ's)

Typically, appraisers are called upon by mortgage lenders to estimate the value of real estate involved in a loan transaction. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does Best Appraisal Group, Inc. get the data used to estimate values in York County or other areas?   (See list of FAQ's)

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

General data is gathered from a number of sources. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) provide data on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. To double-check actual sales prices, we look at items in the assessor's office and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Flood zone data is retrieved from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

And most importantly, the appraiser assimilates general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from creating appraisals for other properties in the same market.


Why do I need a professional appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

If you're involved in any kind of financial decision and the value of your home is relevant, you'll want to hire a licensed appraiser. When selling your house, an appraisal will help you determine the most appropriate price. When buying, you can avoid overpaying by commissioning an independent appraisal. For people settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Best Appraisal Group, Inc. is the best documentation to ensure assets are divided evenly. A house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Knowing its true value means you can make the right financial decisions.


My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI is the common abbreviation for for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI covers the lender in case a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the market price of the house is lower than the loan balance. 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.

Does your monthly mortgage payment include a fee for PMI?Call Best Appraisal Group, Inc. today at (717) 225-5695 or send us an e-mail. Documentation of your home's current value could save you thousands.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (See list of FAQ's)

We start with an inspection of the home. 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 amenities. On the home's interior, make sure it is clutter free and that we can get to things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any bushes so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of outside walls.

The following items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time:
  • A survey or plot map of the property and building (if available).
  • Information on any written private easements, such as a shared driveway with a neighbor.
  • Title policy that lists encroachments or easements.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, your septic system and your well.
  • Any "Homeowners Associations" agreements or, if applicable, condo agreements or fees .

What does "Market Value" mean?   (See list of FAQ's)

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?   (See list of FAQ's)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders 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 entitled to a copy of the report - 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 hires an appraiser directly. In these scenarios, the appraiser may define the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stated otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?   (See list of FAQ's)

It really depends on the market. For example, if you live in a cold region, insulated windows can be a real plus. But they aren't as attractive in a warm-weather climate.

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 weren't far behind, yielding 85%. On the contrary, something that may not add value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.