My Appraisal Office LLC has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

My Appraisal Office LLC is prepared to talk to you about any concerns you might have about appraisals or real estate in Issaquah and King County. Feel free to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
Why would a person require your services?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What's in an appraisal report?
Upon completion of the report, what assurance is there that the value conclusion is veritable?
How are appraisers certified?
Who employs appraisers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in King County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Do you need anything from the homeowner in advance?
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?
I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?



Describe an appraisal   (Top)

An appraisal report is an evaluation that concludes with an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is concluded using a formal process that typically utilizes three "common approaches to value". The Cost Approach is one of the processes that appraisers use to find value; it involves finding what the improvements would cost without physical deterioration, adding the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach involves searching for similar houses in the vicinity and finding value based on making a comparison of those properties to the house being investigated. Generally speaking, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most accurate indicator of market value of a home. One of the least common approaches in appraising houses is the Income Approach, which is commonly used to find the value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the capital produced by the property.

What does an appraiser do?   (Top)

An appraiser forumlates a fair and credible opinion of market value, often in the context of a real estate sale. Appraisers document their expert investigation in appraisal reports.


Why would a person require your services?   (Top)

There are a lot of reasons to obtain an appraisal from My Appraisal Office LLC with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for purchasing an appraisal report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • If you would like to lower your property tax burden.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove PMI.
  • To fight high property taxes.
  • To handle an estate.
  • To offer you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To find a likely property value when selling your home.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS need an appraisal on every home.
  • It's possible you could have to deal with being in a lawsuit - an appraisal will help.
If you need more information regarding the appraisal process, please click here.


What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (Top)

Appraisers do not do provide house inspections and are not home inspectors. An inspection is a third-party evaluation of the accessible structure and mechanical systems of a home, from the top to the foundation. For the most part, a home inspection report will discuss the amenities and the necessities of the home: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical functions, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural integrity of the home such as the attic, accessible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and visible structures.

Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?   (Top)

Simply put, it's like comparing sugar and saccharin. The CMA utilizes market trends to create most of their business. An appraisal utilizes comparable sales that can be validated by public record. Area and building costs 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.

But the largest differentiator is the person behind the report. 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. 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 collect only a flat fee for work they perform, regardless of their value conclusion.

What's in an appraisal report?   (Top)

The main purpose of an appraisal document is to provide a value opinion, and depending on the scope of the report, one will customarily see the following:
  • The client and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • The intended use of the report.
  • The reason for the assignment.
  • The type of value contained and a definition of that value.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Pertinent property attributes, including: location, physical description, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest in question, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, items that are more or less permanently installed and even intangible factors.
  • 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.
  • The scope of work considered when completing the appraisal.
For a more comprehensive view of the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Upon completion of the report, what assurance is there that the value conclusion is veritable?   (Top)

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

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

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

  • The final appraisal report was clear, credible and conclusive.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are intense education requirements as well as practical experience that must be logged - all with the end goal of gaining the skills required to render unbiased value opinions. Likewise, appraisers must obey a meticulous industry code of ethics and respect national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for carrying out an appraisal and reporting its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Top) Regulations regarding licensing and certification are different from state to state. However, licensing and certification is most often associated with many hours of coursework, tests and real world experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she is required to complete continuing education courses so the license stays up to date. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who employs appraisers?   (Top)

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

Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in King County or other areas?   (Top)

One of the main activities of an appraiser is to collect data. Data can be classified as either Specific or General. Specific data is collected from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are documented by the appraiser while on site.

General data is collected from a variety of sources. To look up recently sold homes to be used as "comps", an appraiser will often go to the local Multiple Listing Service. Tax records and other public documents reveal actual sales prices in a market. Flood zone data is retrieved from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

And most importantly, the appraiser assembles general data from his or her past experience in creating appraisals for other properties in the same market.


What can a full appraisal do for me?   (Top)

If you're making any kind of financial decision and the value of your home is relevant, you'll want a full appraisal. For those selling a home, you'll want to determine the price that gets you the most profit but doesn't leave your home on the market too long; an appraisal can help with that. If you're buying, it makes sure you don't overpay. If you're engaged in an estate settlement or divorce, it ensures that property is divided fairly. Simply put, a home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Without knowing its real value, wise financial decisions are impossible.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Top)

PMI is an acronym for Private Mortgage Insurance. This additional plan covers the lender if a borrower defaults on the loan and the value of the home 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 My Appraisal Office LLC today at 425 200-4357 or send us an e-mail. A new appraisal could save you thousands.

Do you need anything from the homeowner in advance?   (Top)

We begin with an inspection of the property. During this process, we 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. On the home's interior, pick up any clutter and make sure we can access things like furnaces and water heaters. In the yard, trim any bushes so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of outside walls.

You can make things go faster and improve the accuracy of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if available).
  • Written property agreements, such as a maintenance easement for a shared driveway.
  • Most recent real estate tax bill from King and or legal description of the property.
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and enhancements, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of Energy efficiency upgrades or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • A list of "suggested" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?   (Top)

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?   (Top)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. While the buyer pays for the report as part of the closing costs, the lender retains the right to use the report or any information contained within. The buyer is entitled to a copy of the appraisal - it's usually bundled 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 hiring the appraiser for things outside securing a mortgage. In these situations, the appraiser may state how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not noted otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.


I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?   (Top)

Like all things real estate, this is dependent on a home's location. 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.

As a rule, the best ROI from renovating a home comes in the kitchen. 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 were second, returning 85%. On the contrary, something that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.