Estate Planning, Liquidation or Divorce  

The loss of a loved is commonly known as a difficult time in life. Likewise, a divorce can also be a difficult experience. Sadly, with these events are complex and difficult decisions regarding the disposition of an estate. Most Americans do not have dedicated estate planners or executors to handle these issues. Most commonly a home or other real property makes up a major share of the total estate value.

Here too, an appraiser can help. Often the first step in fairly dissolving of an estate is to understand its true market value. Where property is involved, the appraiser can help determine the true market value. After obtaining an Appraisal arrangements can more easily be arrived at among disputing parties. Everyone walks away feeling they've received a fair deal.

Whether it's a primary residence, a second vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most of the people involved are very familiar to you. The Realtor is the most common face of the transaction. The mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. The title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the buyer.

So who makes sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? There are too many people exposed in the real estate process to let such a transaction proceed without ensuring that the value of the property is commensurate with the amount being paid.

This is where the appraisal comes in. An appraisal gives an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay - or a seller receive - for a parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. To be an informed party, most people turn to a licensed, certified, professional appraiser to provide them with the most accurate estimate of the true value of their property. The appraiser has no vested interest in the outcome of the appraisal, and should render services with independence, objectivity and impartiality.

What goes into a real estate appraisal?

It all starts with an order, then research of the neighborhood and the subject past listings. Then comes the inspection. An appraiser's duty is to inspect the property being appraised to ascertain the true status of that property. He or she must actually see features, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure that they really exist and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the proper square footage and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house. The appraiser confirms permits for additional sqft or guest houses. Bedroom/bath count does not always make a major effect on value with SFR’S, however in condominiums it is important to appraise a 2 bedroom with a 2 bedroom. Etc. The appraiser must pay special attention to the location of the individual unit within the project, the project’s amenities, and the amount and purpose of the owners’ association assessment since the marketability and value of the individual units in a project depend on the marketability and appeal of the project itself. An appraisal is not the same as a home inspection. The appraiser forms an opinion of value in the appraisal process and the home inspector determines the condition of the home and its major components and reports these findings.


Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or ''bidding wars'' that may adjust the final price up or down. But the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth.

The bottom line is: an appraiser will help you get the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.