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Georgia Home Appraisers, Inc. (Appraiser in Atlanta) has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Georgia Home Appraisers, Inc. (Appraiser in Atlanta) is always eager to address any concerns you might have about appraisals or real estate in Cherokee County. Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your valuation problems.

What is an appraisal?
Describe what an appraiser does
What are the reasons I would need a real estate appraisal?
How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?
What's in an appraisal report?
Once the report is done, what assurance is there that the final number is legitimate?
What does it mean for an appraiser to be licensed?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Cherokee County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Should I do anything in advance of the appraisal inspection
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Once complete, who actually owns the appraisal report?
I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?



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

An appraiser provides an evaluation that leads to an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which assists the real estate appraiser come to this opinion or estimate. The Cost Approach is one of the approaches that real estate appraisers use to find the value of a home; it involves figuring what the improvements would cost without physical degradation, adding the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach involves finding comparable houses in the vicinity and discovering the value based on making a comparison of those homes to the home being appraised. Being the most popular approach, the Sales Comparison Approach tends to be the most accurate and best indicator of market value for a residence. 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 income produced by the property.

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

An appraiser offers a professional, unbiased determination of market value, often in the context of a real estate sale. Appraisers document their professional analysis in appraisal reports.


What are the reasons I would need a real estate appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are many reasons to get an appraisal with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for getting an report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • If you would like to lower your property tax obligations.
  • To build a case for a homeowner's equity and remove insurance.
  • To contest high property taxes.
  • If you need to take care of an estate.
  • To provide you an edge when purchasing real estate.
  • To find the most probable price when listing your home.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS require an appraisal on every home.
  • If you ever find yourself in a lawsuit.
Click here for a more detailed explanation of the process about getting an appraisal.


How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?   (See list of FAQ's)

Home inspectors do not provide an opinion of value and do not use the same forms as appraisers. The point of a home inspection is to investigate the structure of the property from foundation to top. The usual property inspector's report will contain an evaluation of the integrity of the house's heating systems, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and accessible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?   (See list of FAQ's)

Simply put, it's like comparing sugar and saccharin. What the CMA relies upon are vague trends. An appraisal relies on comparable sales that can be validated by public record. Location and construction costs are also precedent in an appraisal. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

The person behind the report is frankly the most significant difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is created by a real estate agent who may or may not be trained in technical valuation concepts or even have a handle on market trends. A certified, Georgia licensed professional who made a career on valuing homes in and around Cherokee County creates the appraisal. Likewise, the agent has something at stake since they get a commission based on the property's selling price whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to accept a previously agreed upon sum for work they perform, regardless of their value conclusion.

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

Each appraisal should reflect a supported value opinion and will document the following:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The reason for the assignment.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the appraiser's opinions and conclusions.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Relevant property attributes, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic attributes, the property rights in question, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, trade fixtures and even intangible items.
  • 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.
  • The scope of work considered when completing the assignment.
For a more detailed view of what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the report is done, what assurance is there that the final number is legitimate?   (See list of FAQ's)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must make sure of the following:
  • That the information analysis contained in the appraisal was proper.

  • Whether individually or collectively, there were no critical errors contained in the report, nor any relevant details left out.

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

  • The final appraisal report was understandable, sound and not easily discredited.
There are rigorous education and experience requirements that must be met in order to achieve the status of "licensed appraiser" in Georgia. Plus, appraisers must stick to a strict industry code of ethics and observe national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for working up an appraisal and documenting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (See list of FAQ's) Licensing and certification is achieved through classroom study, tests and real world experience. Once licensed, he or she is required to 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)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's most likely client, using their services to ensure a home involved in a mortgage transaction is adequate collateral for a loan. Attorneys and CPAs also hire appraisers for divorce and estate settlements.

Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Cherokee County or other areas?   (See list of FAQ's)

One of the main tasks an appraiser must accomplish is to gather property 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 noted by the appraiser while on site.

General data is received from a many places. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) have information on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. Tax records and other public documents reveal actual sales prices in a market. Flood zone data is gathered from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood service.

And last but not least, the appraiser gathers 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?   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraisal is a worthwhile anytime your home's value is relevant to some financial decision. For those selling a home, you'll want to determine the price that gets you the most profit but also ensures you don't have to wait too long for a buyer to show up; an appraisal can help with that. When buying, be sure you're not overpaying by getting an independent appraisal. For parties settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Georgia Home Appraisers, Inc. (Appraiser in Atlanta) is the best documentation to ensure assets are split up fairly. Simply put, 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?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. This supplementary plan protects the lender in case a borrower defaults on the loan and the value of the property is lower 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.

Has your home value appreciated since you first purchased? Call Georgia Home Appraisers, Inc. (Appraiser in Atlanta) today at (770) 313-2376. You may be able to get rid of your Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

Should I do anything in advance of the appraisal inspection   (See list of FAQ's)

The first step in most appraisals is the home inspection. 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 find our way to things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any bushes so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of exterior walls.

The following items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time:
  • Any information on the purchase of the property for the last three years.
  • Information on any written private agreements, such as a shared driveway with a neighbor.
  • Any paperwork, such as a title policy with information on encroachments or easements encroachments or easements.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, your septic system and wells.
  • A list of "proposed" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?   (See list of FAQ's)

In real estate appraising, 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."



Once complete, who actually owns the appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

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 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 engages an appraiser directly. In these cases, the appraiser may stipulate the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?   (See list of FAQ's)

The added value of a particular amenity truly depends on the local market. For example, while quality appliances are attractive, a $7000 built-in refrigerator won't pay off in a neighborhood of moderately priced homes

As a rule, the best ROI from renovating a home comes in the kitchen. According to one national survey, kitchen remodels returned an average of 88% of the investment. In other words, a $10,000 kitchen remodeling project would add approximately $8,800 to the value of the home. Bathrooms were second, yielding 85%. Adding bedrooms and baths can also boost the value of your home as long as your home doesn't then become an oddball for your neighborhood in terms of size.