Real Property Appraisals, LLC has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Real Property Appraisals, LLC is ready to answer any questions you might have about appraisals or real estate in Roslyn and Kittitas County. Contact Real Property Appraisals, LLC today to talk about how we can help solve your valuation problems.

Describe an appraisal
Describe what an appraiser does
What would cause me to need services from Real Property Appraisals, LLC?
How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?
Once the appraisal has been completed, how can I have a guarantee that the value conclusion is veritable?
What goes into an appraiser's certification?
Who employs appraisers?
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Kittitas County or other areas?
Why do I need a professional appraisal?
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?
Do you need anything from me in advance?
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Who has rights to 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)

The procedure of performing an appraisal report consists of an investigation which forms an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which assists the appraiser arrive at this opinion or valuation. One of the three is the Cost Approach - which is what it would cost to replace the improvements, less physical deterioration and other factors, then adding the land value. Easily the most common approach in finding the value of a house is the Sales Comparison Approach which deals with making a comparison to comparable homes nearby. Being the most common approach, the Sales Comparison Approach is considered the most accurate and best indicator of market value for a residential property. One of the least common approaches in appraising homes is the Income Approach, which is mainly used to find the value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the capital produced by the property.

Describe what an appraiser does   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraiser offers a professional, unbiased opinion of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers exhibit their expert conclusions in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to need services from Real Property Appraisals, LLC?   (Go to list of  questions)

There are a lot of reasons to get an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for getting an report include:
  • To receive a loan.
  • To reduce your property taxes.
  • To help a homeowner realize if they owe less than 80% of their home's value and remove PMI.
  • To contest improperly assessed property taxes.
  • To handle an estate.
  • To provide you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To determine a likely sales price when listing your home.
  • To protect your rights if your property is being taken by means of eminent domain in a condemnation case.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • It's possible you could have to deal with being in a lawsuit - an appraisal will help.
For a more detailed description of the appraisal process click here.


How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?   (Go to list of  questions)

The appraiser is not a home inspector nor does he/she do a comprehensive home inspection. The point of a home inspection is to investigate the structure of the property from bottom to top. Commonly, a home inspection report will discuss the amenities and the requirements of the home: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical systems, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural capacity of the home such as the attic, visible 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)

Simply, they have nothing in common. The CMA depends on vague market trends. The appraisal depends on similar definite comparable sales. In addition, the appraisal checks other factors like condition, area and construction prices. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

Who's behind the report is frankly the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Real estate agents, who may not have a complete understanding of valuation methods or the entire market, write CMA's. A certified, Washington licensed professional who has formed their livelihood on valuing properties in and around Kittitas County creates the appraisal. Likewise, the agent has a vested interest in the property's selling price whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to accept a flat fee for work they perform, regardless of their value conclusion.

What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

The main point of an appraisal document is to provide a value opinion, and depending on the scope of the report, you'll usually see the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.
  • Pertinent property characteristics, including: location, physical characteristics, legal attributes, economic factors, the real property interest in question, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, trade fixtures and even intangible factors.
  • All known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and the like.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • What was involved in the process of completing the assignment.
For a more in depth look at the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the appraisal has been completed, how can I have a guarantee that the value conclusion is veritable?   (Go to list of  questions)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must see to it that each of the items below are covered:
  • The appraisal used a suitable analysis of the data.

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

  • That appraisal services were delivered in a careful and judicious fashion.

  • The final appraisal report was transparent, sound and defensible.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are education requirements as well as experience that must be logged - all with the objective of being able to render unbiased value opinions. In addition, appraisers must follow a stringent industry code of ethics and respect national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The tenets for working up an appraisal and communicating its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Go to list of  questions) Licensing and certification requires classroom study, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she is required to engage in continuing education courses so that the license doesn't expire. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who employs appraisers?   (Go to list of  questions)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical client, using their services to ensure real estate involved in a mortgage transaction is enough to cover a loan balance in the case of default. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Kittitas County or other areas?   (Go to list of  questions)

One of the most important tasks an appraiser performs is to collect data. Data can be divided into Specific or General. Specific data is taken 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 places. To research recently sold homes to be used as "comps", we often use the local Multiple Listing Service. To double-check actual sales prices, we research items in the assessor's office and other public documents. Appraisers routinely 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 service.

And last but not least, the appraiser assembles general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from creating appraisals for other houses in the same market.


Why do I need a professional appraisal?   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraisal is a valuable tool whenever the value of your home is relevant to a financial decision. For those selling a home, you'll want to determine a price that gets you the most profit but also ensures you don't have to wait too long for a buyer to show up; an appraisal can help with that. When buying, be sure you're not overpaying by getting an independent appraisal. 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 make smart financial decisions.


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

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. It guards the lender if a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the market price of the property is lower than the loan balance. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

Has your real estate appreciated since you first purchased? Contact Real Property Appraisals, LLC today at 509.674.5878 to see if you can get rid of your Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

Do you need anything from me in advance?   (Go to list of  questions)

We start with an inspection of the home. 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 condition of its features. Inside, make sure it is clutter free and that we can get to things like furnaces and water heaters. In the yard, trim any landscaping so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of outside walls.

To help speed things along plus ensure a more accurate report, try if possible to have the following items:
  • A survey or plot map of the property and building (if available).
  • 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 Kittitas and or legal description of the property.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, your septic system and wells.
  • A list of "suggested" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

How does an appraiser define "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 has rights to the appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. 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 report - 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 engaging the appraiser for things outside securing a mortgage. In these scenarios, the appraiser may state the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not noted otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.


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

Like all things real estate, this is dependent on a home's location. 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

As a rule, the best ROI 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 are right up there with kitchens, returning 85%. On the contrary, something that may not add value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.