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Sam Bartlett, Inc. has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Sam Bartlett, Inc. is prepared to talk to you about any inquiries you might have about appraisals or real estate in Chesterfield and Chesterfield County. Contact Sam Bartlett, Inc. today to see how we can help you with your specific valuation problems.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
What would cause me to require your services?
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?
Once the appraisal is done, how can I have assurance that the value conclusion is trustworthy?
How are appraisers certified?
Who engages the services of appraisers?
Where does Sam Bartlett, Inc. get the information used to estimate values in Chesterfield County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
What is "Market Value?"
Who actually owns the appraisal report?
I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?



Describe an appraisal   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraiser provides an evaluation that generates an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is found using a formal process that typically utilizes three "common approaches to value". The Cost Approach is one of the methods that real estate appraisers use to find the value of a property; it involves concluding what the improvements would cost without physical degradation, plus the land value. Easily the most common approach in figuring the likely sales price of a home is the Sales Comparison Approach which deals with making a comparison to similar properties close by. Being the most common approach, the Sales Comparison Approach is considered the most accurate and best indicator of market value for a property. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is the best method in appraising income producing properties - it deals with estimating what an investor would pay based on the income generated by the property.

What does an appraiser do?   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraiser provides an unprejudiced and well justified assessment of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers exhibit their professional investigation in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to require your services?   (Go to list of  questions)

There are many reasons to purchase an appraisal from Sam Bartlett, Inc. with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for purchasing an report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • To lower your tax burden.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove PMI.
  • To contest inflated property taxes.
  • To deal with an estate.
  • To provide you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To figure out a likely property value when listing 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 a more detailed explanation of the appraisal process, please click here.


How is an appraiser different than a home inspector?   (Go to list of  questions)

Appraisers do not do complete residential property inspections and are not home inspectors. The point of a home inspection is to evaluate the structure of the house from basement to top. 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 other visible structures.

My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?   (Go to list of  questions)

Honestly, they have nothing in common. What the CMA relies upon are vague trends. An appraisal is based on comparable sales that can be verified by public record. Area and construction prices are also precedent 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 behind the report is frankly the most significant difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is created by a real estate agent who may or may not be trained in technical valuation concepts or even have a handle on market trends. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who makes a living out of valuing properties. Likewise, the agent has a vested interest in the property's selling price whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to collect only a flat sum for assignments, regardless of their value conclusion.

What does the appraisal report contain?   (Go to list of  questions)

Every appraisal must indicate a believable estimate of value and must document the following:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the report.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the appraisal.
  • Relevant property attributes, including: location, physical description, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest in question, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, permanent equipment installations and even intangible items.
  • Any 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 appraisal.
For a more comprehensive view of all that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the appraisal is done, how can I have assurance that the value conclusion is trustworthy?   (Go to list of  questions)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must make sure of the following:
  • The appraisal used an apropos analysis of the information.

  • Whether individually or collectively, there were no crucial errors contained in the appraisal, nor any relevant details left out.

  • That appraisal services were not rendered in a careless or negligent fashion.

  • The final appraisal report was clear, sound and defensible.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are education requirements as well as real world experience that must be attained - all with the end goal of gaining the skills required to provide unbiased value opinions. In addition, appraisers must stick to a stringent industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for developing an appraisal and communicating its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Go to list of  questions) Regulations regarding licensing and certification are different from state to state. In general, licensing and certification typically translates to many hours of coursework, tests and experience working under a supervisor. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or 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?   (Go to list of  questions)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical client, needing their services to ensure property 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 Sam Bartlett, Inc. get the information used to estimate values in Chesterfield County or other areas?   (Go to list of  questions)

Collecting information is one of the primary roles of an appraiser. Data can be split into Specific or General. Specific data is gathered from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are documented by the appraiser while on site.

General data is gathered from a numerous sources. To look up recently sold homes to be used as "comps", an appraiser will often use the local Multiple Listing Service. To verify actual sales prices, we use tax records and other public documents. Appraisers often need to report when a property is in a flood zone, so that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

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


How can a licensed appraiser help me?   (Go to list of  questions)

Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. For those selling a home, you'll want to figure out 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. A house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Don't make decisions in the dark with a professional appraisal.


My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?   (Go to list of  questions)

PMI is the common abbreviation for for Private Mortgage Insurance. It guards the lender in the event a borrower defaults on the loan and the market price of the house is lower than the balance of 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.

Has your home value appreciated since you first purchased? Call Sam Bartlett, Inc. today at 804-748-5762. You may be able to cancel your Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (Go to list of  questions)

The first step in most appraisals is the home inspection. During this process, the appraiser 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. Inside, pick up any clutter and make sure we can access things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any landscaping so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of exterior walls.

You can make things go faster and improve the accuracy of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • Any records on the purchase of the property for the last three years.
  • Any paperwork, such as a title policy with information on encroachments or easements encroachments or easements.
  • Home inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and your well.
  • 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).
  • Most recent real estate tax bill and or legal description of the property.

What is "Market Value?"   (Go to 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."



Who actually owns the appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders 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 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.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner hires 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.


I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?   (Go to list of  questions)

It really depends on the market. 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. 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, yielding 85%. On the contrary, something that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.