Jackson-Williams Appraisers, Inc. has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Jackson-Williams Appraisers, Inc. is always ready to answer any questions you might have about appraisals in Martinsburg and Berkeley County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
Describe what an appraiser does
Why would someone need services from Jackson-Williams Appraisers, Inc.?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What are the contents of an appraisal report?
Once the appraisal is done, how can I have a guarantee that the value conclusion is accurate?
What are the requirements to be a certified appraiser?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Berkeley County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for 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 does "Market Value" mean?
Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?

Describe an appraisal   (See list of FAQ's)

The process of creating an appraisal deals with an estimation which leads to an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is figured by a formal process that usually 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 home; it involves discerning what the improvements would cost without physical degradation, adding the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach involves searching for comparable properties in the vicinity and discerning value based on comparing those homes to the home being appraised. The Sales Comparison Approach is normally the most accurate and clearest indicator of value for a residence. The Income Approach is primarily used for finding the market value of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of income a property would bring in.

Describe what an appraiser does   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser offers a professional, unbiased assessment of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers summarize their findings in appraisal reports.

Why would someone need services from Jackson-Williams Appraisers, Inc.?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are many reasons to get an appraisal from Jackson-Williams Appraisers, Inc. with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for purchasing an report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • If you would like to reduce your property tax obligations.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove PMI.
  • To challenge high property taxes.
  • To handle an estate.
  • To offer you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To determine a likely sales price when putting your home on the market.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you are ever involved in a civil case.
Click here for a more detailed explanation of the process dealing with getting an appraisal.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (See list of FAQ's)

Home inspectors do not produce an opinion of value and are not appraisers. A third-party home inspector will inspect the structure of the home, from the roof to the bottom. Commonly, a home inspection report will explain the amenities and the necessities of the home: 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, visible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and other visible structures.

Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?   (See list of FAQ's)

To be honest, they share nothing in common. The CMA depends on indistinct trends in the market. Appraisals use similar sales which are valid resources. The appraisal report will also include area and building prices. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

Who's behind the report is frankly the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is created by a real estate agent who may or may not have a true grasp of the market or valuation concepts. A certified, West Virginia licensed professional who bases a career on valuing properties in and around Berkeley County creates the appraisal. Moreover, the appraiser is an independent party, with no vested interest in the value conclusion, unlike the agent, whose income is tied to the price of the home.

What are the contents of an appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

Every report must indicate a believable estimate of value and must document the following:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • The type of value contained and a definition of that value.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.(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 description, legal attributes, economic attributes, the property rights in question, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, trade fixtures and even intangible considerations.
  • 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 entailed in the activity of completing the appraisal.
For a more comprehensive look at the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report

Once the appraisal is done, how can I have a guarantee that the value conclusion is accurate?   (See list of FAQ's)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must make sure of the following:
  • That the information analysis utilized in the appraisal was suitable.

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

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

  • The final appraisal report was transparent, credible and defensible.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must meet considerable education and experience requirements that enable us to formulate an unbiased opinion. In addition, appraisers must obey a stringent industry code of ethics and respect national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for working up an appraisal and documenting its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

   (See list of FAQ's) Regulations regarding licensing and certification are different from state to state. In general, licensing and certification is most often associated with many hours of coursework, tests and real world experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she must then complete continuing education courses so the license remains current. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who are an appraiser's customers?   (See list of FAQ's)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical customer, requiring their services to ensure a home involved in a mortgage transaction is adequate collateral for a loan. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Berkeley County or other areas?   (See list of FAQ's)

Compiling information is one of the primary functions of an appraiser. Data can be classified as either Specific or General. Specific data is taken from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are gathered by the appraiser while on site.

General data is collected from a number of places. To research recent sales to be used as "comps", an appraiser will often use the local Multiple Listing Service. Tax records and other courthouse documents reveal actual sales prices in a market. Appraisers often have 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 doing assignments for other properties in the same market.

What can a full appraisal do for me?   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraisal is a worthwhile whenever the value of your home is pertinent to a financial decision. 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. Simply put, a home 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?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI is an acronym for Private Mortgage Insurance. This added policy covers the lender in case a borrower doesn't pay 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.

Is PMI a part of your monthly mortgage payment?Call Jackson-Williams Appraisers, Inc. today at (304) 264-5959 or send us an e-mail. A current appraisal could save you thousands.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (See list of FAQ's)

The first step in most appraisals is the home inspection. 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 status of its amenities. The best thing you can do to help is make sure the appraiser has easy access to the exterior of the house (gates aren't locked, etc). Trim any shrubs and relocate any items that would get in our way while we measure the structure. On the inside, make sure the appraiser can easily access items like furnaces and water heaters.

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.
  • A list of any personal property that will be left behind and sold with the home, such as a oven, or a washer and dryer, if applicable.
  • Most recent real estate tax bill from Berkeley 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 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?   (See list of FAQ's)

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."

Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?   (See list of FAQ's)

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 certainly 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.

It's different when it's the homeowner hiring the appraiser for things outside securing a mortgage. In these cases, the appraiser may define how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not noted otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.

Which home renovations add the most to the price?   (See list of FAQ's)

It really depends on the market. For example, if you're in a neigborhood of small to medium priced homes, a media room may not be something people in that price range want

No matter where you go, however, renovating a kitchen is almost always a safe investment. 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 weren't far behind, returning 85%. On the contrary, something that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.