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Tri-County Appraisal Group, Inc. has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Tri-County Appraisal Group, Inc. is willing to address any questions you might have about appraisals or real estate in Dearborn and Wayne County. Feel free to contact us today.

What is an appraisal?
Describe what an appraiser does
Why would I require services from Tri-County Appraisal Group, Inc.?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What does the appraisal report contain?
Upon completion of the report, what assurance is there that the value conclusion is legitimate?
What are the requirements to be a certified appraiser?
Who engages the services of appraisers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Wayne 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?
Does the appraiser need anything from me in advance?
What does "Market Value" mean?
Once complete, who actually owns the appraisal report?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?



What is an appraisal?   (List of questions)

An appraisal is an inspection that concludes with an opinion of value. The appraiser will typically use a several "approaches," typically three, to come to the estimation of market value. One of the methods in use is the Cost Approach, which evaluates what it would cost to replace the improvements to the home, minus depreciation and physical dilapidation, adding the land value. The most common approach in figuring the value of a home is the Sales Comparison Approach which deals with figuring a comparison to comparable homes close by. Usually, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most accurate indicator of market value of a residential property. One of the least common approaches in appraising residential properties is the Income Approach, which is mainly used to figure the market value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the income produced by the building.

Describe what an appraiser does   (List of questions)

An appraiser generates an unprejudiced and well substantiated assessment of market value, in the support of real property exchanges. Appraisers summarize their professional investigation in appraisal reports.


Why would I require services from Tri-County Appraisal Group, Inc.?   (List of questions)

There are a lot of reasons to get an appraisal from Tri-County Appraisal Group, Inc. with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for ordering an appraisal report include:
  • To obtain a loan.
  • If you would like to reduce your property tax burden.
  • To demonstrate a homeowner's acquired equity and remove PMI.
  • To challenge improperly assessed property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To give you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To determine the most probable price when putting your home on the market.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • It's possible you could have to deal with being in a lawsuit - an appraisal will definitely help.
If you need more information about the appraisal process, please click here.


What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (List of questions)

Home inspectors do not come to an opinion of value and do not do appraisal reports. A third-party home inspector will evaluate the structure of the home, from the roof to the bottom. For the most part, a home inspection report will discuss the amenities and the requirements of the house: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical systems, 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 other visible structures.

Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?   (List of questions)

Simply put, it's like comparing opera to country. The CMA relies on indistinct local market trends. An appraisal utilizes comparable sales that can be proven by public record. Area and architectural prices are also precedent in an appraisal. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

But the most significant factor is the person behind the report. 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. The appraisal is produce by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Further, the appraiser is an independent voice, with no vested interest in the property's value, unlike the real estate agent, whose income is tied to the value of the home.

What does the appraisal report contain?   (List of questions)

Every appraisal should indicate a supported value opinion and must identify the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • 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 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 considerations.
  • 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.
  • What was included in the activity of completing the assignment.
For a more detailed 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 legitimate?   (List of questions)

In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must see to it that each of the items below are covered:
  • The appraisal used an appropriate analysis of the information.

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

  • That appraisal services were not carried out in a careless or negligent manner.

  • That a believable, defensible appraisal report was conferred.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must meet intense education and experience requirements that train us to formulate an unbiased opinion. In addition, appraisers must stick to a stringent industry code of ethics and respect national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for carrying out an appraisal and documenting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (List of questions) Licensing and certification is achieved through classroom study, tests and experience working under a supervisor. Once licensed, he or she is required to engage in continuing education courses so the license stays current. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who engages the services of appraisers?   (List of questions)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's most likely customer, requiring their services to ensure real estate 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 Wayne County or other areas?   (List of questions)

One of the primary things an appraiser does is to collect data. Data can be divided into Specific or General. Specific data is taken from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.

General data is gathered from a many places. To research recent sales to be used as "comps", an appraiser will often use the local Multiple Listing Service. To double-check actual sales prices, we use items in the assessor's office and other public documents. Appraisers often need to report when a property lies in a flood zone, and that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

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


Why should I hire a licensed appraiser?   (List of questions)

If you're making any kind of financial decision and the value of your home is relevant, you'll want an appraisal. When selling your home, an appraisal will help you determine a price that maximizes profit and reduces time on the market. When buying, be sure you're not overpaying by getting an independent appraisal. If you're engaged in an estate settlement or divorce, it ensures that property is divided fairly. Simply put, a house 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?   (List of questions)

PMI is the common abbreviation for for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI takes care of the lender if 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.

The money you keep from getting rid of your PMI will make up for the price of the appraisal in no time. Nobody is more qualified than Tri-County Appraisal Group, Inc. when it comes to analyzing real estate appreciation in Dearborn and Wayne County. Contact us today.

Does the appraiser need anything from me in advance?   (List of questions)

We begin 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 amenities. Inside, pick up any clutter and make sure we can get to things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any bushes so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of outside walls.

To help expedite our work as well as ensure a more accurate report, attempt if possible to have the following items:
  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if readily available).
  • 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.
  • A list of any major home improvements and upgrades, the amount of their purchase and date of their installation (for example, the addition of Energy efficiency upgrades or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker's data sheet and Purchase Agreement if a sale is "pending".

What does "Market Value" mean?   (List of questions)

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?   (List of questions)

For mortgage transactions, the lender requests the appraisal, either directly or through a third party. 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.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner hires an appraiser directly. In these situations, the appraiser may state the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.


Which home renovations add the most to the price?   (List of questions)

The added value of a particular amenity truly depends on the local market. 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, yielding 85%. Adding bedrooms and baths can also boost the value of your home as long as your home doesn't then become atypical for your neighborhood in terms of size.