Lots of Questions!

We at Genesee Valley Appraisals understand that purchasing or selling a property can be very stressful. Getting the appraisal is a vital part of a larger process. Take a few minutes to read through these questions and answers so that you can be educated about this portion of the process. If your questions are not answered, please feel free to contact us

Common Questions

What does an appraiser do?

  The most important function of an appraiser's job is to provide an unbiased, professional opinion of market value to help out with financial transactions. Appraisers will create a report that displays their investigation of the home.  

Why would a person need a home appraisal?

  There are many reasons to obtain an appraisal from Genesee Valley Appraisals with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for getting an report include:  

  1.  If you are applying for a loan. To reduce your tax burden. 
  2. To establish the replacement cost of PMI. 
  3. To challenge inflated property taxes. If you need to take care of an estate. 
  4. To offer you a leg-up when purchasing real estate. 
  5. To figure out a reasonable sales price when selling real estate. To protect your rights in a condemnation case. 
  6. Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  7.  If you ever find yourself in a lawsuit.  

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

  Home inspectors do not provide an opinion of value and are not appraisers. An inspection is a third-party evaluation of the liveable structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the bottom. Commonly, a home inspection report will evaluate the amenities and the requirements of the property: 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, exposed insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and visible structures.  

What is the difference between an Appraisal and a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)?

  Simply, they share nothing in common. What the CMA depends on are superficial trends. An appraisal is based on comparable sales that can be validated by public record. Area and building costs are also a priority in an appraisal. A CMA delivers a "ball park figure." An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.   But the biggest difference is the person creating 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 created 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 value of a home, unlike the real estate agent, whose income is tied to the value of the home. 

What does the appraisal report contain?

  Each report must reflect a credible estimate of value and must identify the following:   The client and other intended users. The intended use of the report. The purpose of the assignment. The type of value reported and the definition of the value reported. The effective date of the appraiser's opinions and conclusions. Relevant property characteristics, including location attributes, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest valued, and Non real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, including trade fixtures and 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 to complete the assignment. 

After completing the report, what assurance is there that the value indicated is valid?

  In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must ensure the following:   That the information analysis utilized in the appraisal was appropriate. That significant errors of omission or commission were not committed individually or collectively. That appraisal services were not rendered in a careless or negligent manner. That a credible, supportable appraisal report was communicated. Most states require that real estate appraisers are state licensed or certified. The state licensed or certified appraiser is trained to render an unbiased opinion based upon extensive education and experience requirements. To become licensed or certified, appraisers must fulfill rigorous education and experience requirements. In addition, appraisers must abide by a strict industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for developing an appraisal and reporting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). 

How are appraisers certified?

  Regulations regarding licensing and certification of Real Estate Appraisers vary from state to state. However, licensing and certification is most often associated with many hours of coursework, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she is required to take continuing education courses in order to keep the license current.  

Who do appraisers work for?

  Typically, appraisers are employed by lenders to estimate the value of real estate involved in a loan transaction. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.  Appraisers also can be hired for private appraisals of property such as a FSBO. 

Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate value?

  Gathering data is one of the primary roles of an appraiser. Data can be divided into Specific and General. Specific data is gathered from the home itself. Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.   General data is gathered from a number of sources. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) provide data on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. Tax records and other public documents verify actual sales prices in a market. Flood zone data is gathered from FEMA data outlets, such as Metro Appraisals' InterFlood product. And most importantly, the appraiser gathers general data from his or her past experience in creating appraisals for other properties in the same market. 

Why do I need a professional appraisal?

  Anytime the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. If you're selling your home, an appraisal helps you set the most appropriate value. 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. A home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Knowing its true value means you can the right financial decisions.  

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

 PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. It insures a lender against loss on homes purchased with a down-payment of less than 20%. Once equity in the home reaches 20% you can eliminate the PMI and start saving immediately. 

 A fashionable way to cut costs for homeowners is to get the PMI eliminated from their mortgage loan, thus saving them money on their monthly payments. Your monthly payments will go down once your mortgage loan amount is down below 80% of the value of your home. In most cases you can apply to a lender to have the PMI eliminated from your loan. We are qualified in helping clients just like you delete unneeded PMI insurance.  

What is "Market Value?"

  Market value or fair market value is the most probable price that a property should bring (will sell for) in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, 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: (1) buyer and seller are typically motivated; (2) both parties are well informed or well advised; (3) a reasonable time is allowed for exposure to the open market; (4) payment is made in terms of cash in U.S. dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and (5) 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 Actually Owns the Appraisal Report?

  In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. While the home 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 home buyer is entitled to a copy of the report - it's usually included with all of 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 how the appraisal can be used; 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?

  The answer to this is different depending upon the location of the home. Different markets value amenities differently. Adding a central air conditioner in Houston, Texas may add significant value, while putting one in a home located in Buffalo, New York might not have much impact.   As a rule, the most value returned 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, returning 85%. Genesee Valley Appraisals is happy to handle any inquiries you might have about appraisals or real estate in Monroe County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.  

For-Sale-by-Owner (FSBO) / Pre-Listing Services

  It's very hard to be objective about your house because you probably have an emotional attachment to it. A professional appraiser is objective and will tell you what you need to know, not just what you want to hear. In addition to helping you set a realistic selling price so your house will attract interested buyers, a professional appraisal is a crucial negotiating tool once you have a potential buyer. It gives you something tangible to show your buyer. It's an independent third party's opinion of your house's value, and not just you saying how much you think your home is worth. Interested buyers assume that you have an emotional attachment to your home and will be more likely to give credibility to a seasoned appraiser's value judgement than yours.  

Challenge property tax assessments

  Let's say you live in an area that is declining -- your local tax assessor may have your house overvalued. That only means you're most likely paying more taxes than you should. The sooner you take care of a matter like this, the better, since your property assessment may likely go up again in the next period. An appraisal report from Genesee Valley Appraisals is your perfect weapon when challenging your property tax assessment.  

  If your home is near a declining area, your lender may just make the decision to automatically freeze your home equity line of credit (HELOC) - even if your specific property has not declined in value. This can be negative on your credit score since it may appear as though that credit line is maxed out, and also disadvantageous from a cash flow angle. Genesee Valley Appraisals can help you reinstate your HELOC.   

Do You Need Field and Desktop Appraisal Review Services?

  Have you just been handed a copy of your appraisal and you would like to have a seasoned appraiser double-check it for preciseness or do you want a second opinion without the added expense and delay of waiting for a whole new appraisal? In a field review we will go out and check the subject and comparables in question. If you need it immediately, we'll provide desk review and verify as many facts as we can, using online data sources as well as our own files.    Do you need a retrospective review of an appraisal report? We can assist you. While usually requested by banks, you may desire to use this service if you suspect mortgage fraud related to your home. 

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Genesee Valley Appraisals

585-622-2141 -Phone reaches both Littleton, CO and Rochester, NY offices


Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm

Saturday: Closed

Sunday: Closed