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Southern Belle Appraisals has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Southern Belle Appraisals is always willing to address any questions you might have about appraisals or real estate in Central Florida counties. Contact Southern Belle Appraisals today to learn how we can help you with your specific valuation problems.

Describe an appraisal
Describe what an appraiser does
What are the reasons I would request services from Southern Belle Appraisals?
How is an appraiser different than a home inspector?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What does the appraisal report contain?
Upon completion of the appraisal, how can I have assurance that the value conclusion is legitimate?
What are the requirements to be a certified appraiser?
Who engages the services of appraisers?
Where does Southern Belle Appraisals get the information used to estimate values in Brevard County or other areas?
Why should I hire a licensed appraiser?
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?
Should I do anything in advance of the appraisal inspection
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?



Describe an appraisal   (See list of FAQ's)

The appraisal process is an evaluation that generates an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is found through a formal method that typically utilizes three "common approaches to value". One of the methods in use is the Cost Approach, which finds what it would cost to replace the improvements to the property, less the depreciation and physical dilapidation, adding the land value. Easily the most common approach in finding the likely sales price of a home is the Sales Comparison Approach which concerns making a comparison to similar properties nearby. The Sales Comparison Approach is normally the most definitive and best indicator of value for a residential property. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is of most importance in appraising income producing properties - it involves 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 fair and credible assessment of market value, in the support of real estate exchanges. Appraisers document their professional findings in appraisal reports.


What are the reasons I would request services from Southern Belle Appraisals?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are a lot of reasons to get an appraisal from Southern Belle Appraisals with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for getting an report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • To lower your property taxes.
  • To help a homeowner realize if they owe less than 80% of their home's value and remove PMI.
  • To fight inflated property taxes.
  • If you need to take care of an estate.
  • To give you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To find the most probable price when putting your home on the market.
  • To protect your rights if your property is being taken by means of eminent domain in a condemnation case.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you ever find yourself in a lawsuit.
If you need a more detailed explanation of the appraisal process, please click here.


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

The appraiser is not a home inspector nor does he/she do a complete home inspection. A third-party home inspector will inspect the structure of the home, from the roof to the bottom. The usual house inspector's report will contain an evaluation of the condition of the home's heating system, 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.

My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

Frankly, they share nothing in common. The CMA relies on indistinct trends in the market. The appraisal relies on specific definite comparable sales. Location and architectural prices are also a priority in an appraisal. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

The credentials of the person creating the report is actually the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Real estate agents, who may not have a complete understanding of valuation methods or the entire market, generate CMA's. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Further, the appraiser is an independent party, with no vested interest in the property's value, unlike the real estate agent, who gets a commission based upon the price of the home.

What does the appraisal report contain?   (See list of FAQ's)

Every appraisal should indicate a believable estimate of value and should document the following:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the appraisal.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • The type of value reported and a definition of the value reported.
  • The effective date of the appraisal.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Characteristics of the property that have a bearing on the value, including: location, physical characteristics, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest in question, 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.
  • All known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and other items of a similar nature.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • The scope of work used when completing the appraisal.
For a more comprehensive look at all that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Upon completion of the appraisal, how can I have assurance that the value conclusion is legitimate?   (See list of FAQ's)

In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must ensure the following:
  • The appraisal used analysis of the data.
  • That crucial errors of omission or commission were not committed individually or collectively.
  • That appraisal services were not carried out in a careless or negligent fashion.
  • That a trustworthy, supportable appraisal report was conferred.
There are intense education and on the job experience requirements that must be fulfilled in order to achieve the status of "licensed appraiser" in Florida. Likewise, appraisers must abide by a meticulous industry code of ethics and observe national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for working up an appraisal and reporting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (See list of FAQ's)

Regulations regarding licensing and certification vary from state to state. However, licensing and certification typically translates to many hours of coursework, tests and practical experience. Once licensed, he/she is required to take continuing education courses so the license remains current. To see the specific requirements for any state
click here.

Who engages the services of appraisers?   (See list of FAQ's)

Most of the time, appraisers are called upon by lenders to render a value opinion on a house involved in a loan transaction - to make sure the property is truly adequate collateral for the loan. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does Southern Belle Appraisals get the information used to estimate values in Central Florida or other areas?   (See list of FAQ's)

One of the main things an appraiser does is to collect property data. Data can be classified as either Specific or General. Specific data is from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.

General data is received from a numerous places. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) have information on recently sold homes that could be used as comparables. To verify actual sales prices, we look at items in the assessor's office and other public documents. Flood zone data is available from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood system.

And most importantly, the appraiser assembles general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from doing assignments for other properties in the same market.


Why should I hire a licensed appraiser?   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraisal is a valuable tool anytime your home's value is pertinent to a financial decision. For those selling a home, you'll want to figure out a 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. For people settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Southern Belle Appraisals is the best documentation to ensure assets are divided fairly. A home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Without knowing its real value, wise financial decisions are impossible.


My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. This supplementary policy covers the lender in the event a borrower defaults on the loan and the market price of the property 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.

Is PMI a part of your monthly mortgage payment?Call Southern Belle Appraisals today at 321-636-5975 or send us an e-mail. A current appraisal could save you thousands.

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

We start with an inspection of the home. 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 condition of its features. Is there anything you can do to help? Yes there is! First, be sure we have easy access to the exterior of the house . Trim any bushes and move any items that would get in our way while we measure the structure. On the inside, make sure we can easily access items like furnaces and water heaters.

To help speed things along as well as ensure a more accurate report, attempt if possible to have the following items:
  • Records on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years.
  • Information on any written private easements, such as a shared driveway with a neighbor.
  • Most recent real estate tax bill and or legal description of the property.
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and upgrades, the amount of their purchase and date of their installation (for example, the addition of central air conditioning or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • A list of "proposed" improvements if the property is to be appraised "as complete".

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

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."



Who has rights to 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.

This rule doesn't apply when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these cases, the appraiser may define the purpose of the appraisal; 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.


How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?   (See list of FAQ's)

A home's location - what city it is in and even what part of that city - is key to this popular question. For example, adding a central air conditioner in to a home in the South may add significant value, while putting one in a home near the Pacific Northwest might not have much impact.

No matter where you go, however, renovating a kitchen is almost always a safe move. 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, yielding 85%. Adding bedrooms and baths can also boost the value of your home (when done well) as long as your home doesn't then become overbuilt for your neighborhood in terms of size.