BRG Appraisal has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

BRG Appraisal is willing to elaborate on any concerns you might have about appraisals in Wakulla County. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your specific valuation problems.

Define the term "Appraisal"
What does an appraiser do?
Why would someone require your services?
Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What are the contents of an appraisal report?
Once the assignment has been delivered, what assurance is there that the value conclusion is trustworthy?
What does it mean for an appraiser to be licensed?
Who do appraisers work for?
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Wakulla County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
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?
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?



Define the term "Appraisal"   (Return to top)

An appraisal is an investigation leading to an opinion of value. The appraiser must use a few "approaches," typically three, to come to the estimation of market value. One of them is the Cost Approach - which is how much capital would be required to replace the improvements, less physical deterioration and other factors, then adding the land value. The most common approach in figuring the value of a house is the Sales Comparison Approach which deals with concluding a comparison to comparable houses close by. Being the most common approach, the Sales Comparison Approach is generally the most accurate and best indicator of market value for a house. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is the most important method in appraising income producing properties - it involves estimating what an investor would pay based on the money produced by the property.

What does an appraiser do?   (Return to top)

An appraiser provides an unbiased and well substantiated assessment of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers show their investigation in appraisal reports.


Why would someone require your services?   (Return to top)

There are many reasons to purchase an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for purchasing an appraisal report include:
  • To receive a loan.
  • To reduce your tax burden.
  • To build a case for a homeowner's equity and remove Primary Mortgage Insurance.
  • To fight high property taxes.
  • To deal with an estate.
  • To provide you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To determine an honest property value when selling your home.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • It's possible you could be involved in a lawsuit - an appraisal will help.
For a more detailed explanation of the appraisal process click here.


Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?   (Return to top)

The appraiser is not a home inspector and he or she does not do a complete home inspection. The purpose of a home inspection is to evaluate the structure of the home from basement to rooftop. The stereotypical 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 visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?   (Return to top)

Honestly, they share nothing in common. The CMA depends on indefinite market trends. Appraisals use similar sales which are verifiable resources. The appraisal report will also contain area and building costs. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

The credentials of the person creating the report is frankly the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Real estate agents write CMA's, and they don't always know the whole market or bear specific competence when it comes to home valuation. A certified, state licensed professional who has formed a career on valuing real estate in and around Wakulla County creates the appraisal. Further, the appraiser is an unbiased voice, with no vested interest in the value of a home, unlike the real estate agent, who gets a commission based upon the value of the home.

What are the contents of an appraisal report?   (Return to top)

Each report should reflect a credible estimate of value and should document the following:
  • The client and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • 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 value opinion.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Pertinent property characteristics, including: location, physical characteristics, legal attributes, economic factors, the property rights valued, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, 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 the like.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • What was entailed in the activity of completing the appraisal.
For a more detailed view of what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the assignment has been delivered, what assurance is there that the value conclusion is trustworthy?   (Return to top)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must make sure of the following:
  • The appraisal contained a suitable analysis of the information.

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

  • That appraisal services were provided in a careful and judicious fashion.

  • That a trustworthy, supportable appraisal report was communicated.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must satisfy intense education and experience requirements that give us the background to produce an unbiased opinion. In addition, appraisers must stick to a stringent industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for working up an appraisal and communicating its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Return to top) Regulations regarding licensing and certification vary from state to state. In general, licensing and certification is commonly associated with many hours of coursework, tests and real world 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 do appraisers work for?   (Return to top)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical customer, using their services to ensure real estate involved in a mortgage transaction is enough to cover a loan balance in the case of default. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Wakulla County or other areas?   (Return to top)

Compiling data is one of the primary functions of an appraiser. Data can be described as either Specific or General. Specific data is from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are documented by the appraiser while on site.

General data is received from a number of sources. To find out about recent sales to be used as "comps", an appraiser will often use the local Multiple Listing Service. To verify actual sales prices, we look at tax records and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Appraisers routinely need to report when a property lies in a flood zone, so that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood service.

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


How can a licensed appraiser help me?   (Return to top)

An appraisal is a valuable tool whenever your home's value is pertinent to a financial decision. When selling your home, an appraisal assists you in setting the most appropriate price. If you're buying, it makes sure you don't overpay. For parties settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from BRG Appraisal is the best documentation to ensure assets are split up evenly. Simply put, a house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Knowing its true value means you can make informed financial decisions.


My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?   (Return to top)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. This supplementary plan guards the lender in the event a borrower defaults on the loan and the market price of the house is less than what the borrower still owes on the loan. 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.

Has your real estate appreciated since you first purchased? Contact BRG Appraisal today at to see if you can get rid of your Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (Return to top)

We start with an inspection of the property. During this process, the appraiser will come to your home and measure it, determine the layout of the rooms inside, confirm all aspects of the home's general condition, and take several photos of your house for inclusion in the report. The best thing you can do to help is make sure we have easy access to the exterior of the house (gates aren't locked, etc). Trim any bushes and move any items that would make it difficult to measure the structure. Indoors, make sure we can easily access items like furnaces and water heaters.

To help expedite our work plus ensure a more accurate report, attempt if possible to have the following items:
  • Information on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years.
  • A list of any personal property that will be left behind and sold with the home, such as a oven, or a washer and dryer, if applicable.
  • A bill for your most recent real estate taxes which should also contain a legal description of the property.
  • A list of any major home improvements and upgrades, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of Insulation or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • Find copies of the current listing agreement, broker's data sheet and, if the sale is "pending", the purchase agreement.

What does "Market Value" mean?   (Return to top)

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."



Who has rights to the appraisal report?   (Return to top)

For mortgage transactions, the lender requests 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 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.

It's different when it's the homeowner engaging the appraiser for things outside securing a mortgage. In these cases, the appraiser may stipulate how the appraisal can be used; 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.


Which home renovations add the most to the price?   (Return to top)

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!

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