Critical Considerations When Choosing an Appraiser
Appraisers are supposed to promote and maintain the public’s trust with clear communication of objective, fair and defensible appraisals in a manner that is not misleading. Real property issues are critical due to the enormity and/or importance of the asset; for many, our homes are the largest valued asset we own. When selecting an appraiser, interview the expert and consider the following:
• The appraiser should have state licensing credentials and be a certified residential appraiser for residential custom properties, equestrian ranch properties, manufactured homes on acreage, or residential vacant land appraisals. I am a Certified Residential Appraiser, since 1998 and my SRA designation from the Appraisal Institute in 2018. Started my business under a Mentor in West Los Angeles, who introduced me to high end custom homes, by working in Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, and Malibu. So I have seen some very extreme and highly quality custom home properties throughout my career.
• The appraiser should be knowledgeable of your neighborhood; the more familiar the better. Each neighborhood has its own nuances and preferences that affect market value; the appraiser should recognize and understand those issues. How many appraisals has the appraiser completed in your market area? How many custom home appraisals have they completed? How many land appraisals? Unlike many appraisers, I just specialize in Temecula Valley/ Southwest Riverside County. Many appraisers travel to San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino and even Los Angeles Counties. Because I stay local, it is easier for me to stay up to date on what is happening locally.
• Comparable sales are the most reliable indicators of market value, however, pending sales and competitive active listings should also be addressed in the analysis because sales may be over 30 days old and may not reflect current market trends. How would you like to buy a property in a market with rapidly changing values and not have that accounted for in the estimated market value for pre-listing appraisal? I have a software package that I subscribe to, that assists in the data analysis of MLS sales with up to two years of analysis breaking out time adjustments, gross living area adjustments, site adjustments and several other amenities.
• The appraiser should interview the agents of the comparable sales used in the analysis. The agents can provide transaction and market insights that appraisers need to explore and understand. Since I am familiar with many of the long time, custom home and land agents, it assists in my knowledge of the market and I can call them to discuss, what is currently happening in our market.
• Is the appraiser willing to provide expert witness testimony in a deposition or court room trial for either an estate, bankruptcy or family law matter? I have completed depositions including traveling to Chicago for a deposition on a federal court case.
• And finally, is the assignment fee commensurate with a quality appraisal? If you are trying to find the low bidder and you have a complex property (large custom home, large acreage or extensively improved property), you may not be best served selecting the low bidder unless they meet the above criteria. Often times the low bidder either doesn’t understand the complexity of the property or is not willing to put in the time that is required to understand the scope of work, describe and analyze the project and support their conclusions. Not that you have to overpay for an appraisal but the old adage of “You get what you pay for” does apply, and fees should not be the deciding factor in your decision. The appraiser competency and their knowledge of the market and assignment should be a key issue in your selection process. I can truthfully tell you that I am not the lowest fee appraiser in the Temecula Valley. But I do provide a high level of service, which supports the fees that I charge. Finally you will always get a written proposal from me after I have reviewed your particular case and requirements. The proposal includes the fee, type of report to be completed and turn time, so that way you know exactly what you are paying for and when to expect the completion of the assignment.
Please contact me today via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mobile telephone (909) 262-3434 to discuss your particular case.