Critical Considerations When Choosing a Residential Real Estate 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:

1) The residential appraiser should have state licensing credentials and be a certified residential appraiser.

2) 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.

3) Closed sales are the most reliable indicators of market value, however, pending sales and competitive active listings should also be considered in the analysis because sales are typically 30 to 60 days old and may not reflect current market trends. How would you feel if you buy a property in a market with rapidly changing values and not have that accounted for in the estimated market value by the appraisal report?

4) 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.

5) Is the appraiser willing to provide expert witness testimony in a deposition or court room?

6) And finally, is the assignment fee commensurate with a quality appraisal? If you are looking for the low bidder or the fastest turnaround time, you could be leading yourself into a direction that could impact your asset and/or the issue at hand as to why you are looking for a competent appraiser. If 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.  Sometimes 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, describe and analyze the project.  Not that you have to overpay for an appraisal, but the age-old adage of “You get what you pay for” does apply, and fees shouldn’t be the deciding factor in your decision.  The appraiser competency, their knowledge of the market and the assignment should be a key issue in your selection process. I handle Southwest Riverside County specializing in Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar, Menifee, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, San Jacinto, Perris, Anza and Aguanga and North County San Diego (Fallbrook, Bonsall & Rainbow). I am familiar with these markets as I reside in the Wine Country of Temecula, and I have worked in these market areas for 30 years.

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