Many people try to determine the values of their real estate by researching websites that value a home based on aggregate data collected through various means. While these online services can be quick and seem easy, computer generated reports can be grossly inaccurate. More often than not, computer data collected from outdated and often unreliable resources can cause issues when trying to determine a fair value of real estate in any specific market. These websites may be of some value in showing valuation trends, but can in no way replace the services of a local real estate appraiser.
Highly trained professional real estate appraisers, while more expensive, can effectively determine a home’s true value and also take into account variables a computer generated report can’t. Desirable factors such as a highly rated school system, economic development and surrounding neighborhoods can drastically affect a home’s value positively. Areas that are run down but in the midst of a gentrification process are unlikely to get a fair appraisal from a computer model, someone untrained or out of the area. Only a local appraiser will be familiar with rising or declining valuations and building trends in specified locations.
While obtaining a professional real estate appraiser to correctly determine a home’s value can be critical during a divorce, to value an estate, or to satisfy a lender requirement for a mortgage, choosing a reputable local appraiser that knows their market area can mean the difference between a good appraisal and a bad one. If an appraiser does not intimately know the market area they serve, many factors used to determine a home’s value can be left out of the process. Without knowledge of the current market area trends, property values given by an appraiser outside of their locale can be skewed.
As banks and other financial institutions are now dealing with untenable volumes of foreclosed homes, there is a growing trend among banks and other financial institutions to hire real estate brokers to complete BPOs (Broker Price Opinion), rather than pay appraisers for a home’s valuation. Although BPOs should be more accurate than computer generated reports in determining a property’s value, there is considerable controversy as to whether or not these real estate agents have adequate training to complete these reports effectively.
BPO services cost less than a uniform appraisal report; however, much like their computer generated counterparts, BPOs often omit crucial information. Many lenders do not even require an in-depth inspection or interior inspection of a home, for example. How can anyone hope for any type of realistic property valuation without an on-site inspection?
Appraisers are required to complete a stringent course of training through accredited educational facilities before they are licensed or certified. In some states, appraisers must also complete an apprenticeship under a more seasoned professional prior to being permitted to value property independently. A good appraiser will look at all aspects of the property, including square footage, room count, types of rooms, condition of property, lot size, neighborhood trends and comparable properties in the area that have sold recently, as well as comparable properties currently on the market.
Appraisals take longer than a BPO provided by a real estate broker or online computer generated reports. But, the report from appraisers is in depth and lengthy. All variables used to arrive at the valuation are in black and white.
Searching for a qualified appraiser in your area is relatively easy. Neighborhood banks and lenders are a great referral source. Searching an online directory or your local yellow pages can be another viable source as well when looking for a professional appraiser.