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Property Appraisal Questions

A property appraisal is a professional survey of a property by an appraiser to understand the market value of the property. Appraisers who undertake the survey are professionals who are licensed by the state and maintain strict ethical standards. Very often, a property appraisal is carried out for a bank when a property is being approved for a loan.

Listed below are a few questions answered by lawyers on property appraisal related questions.

Is there an online service where real estate appraisers share their property appraisal reports with each other?

Real estate appraisers are meant to keep their reports confidential. They are only allowed to share them with the clients who commissioned the appraisal in the first place. However, details of property sales that take place are recorded at the town clerk's office and are available for anyone to view since they are considered to be public records.

What is an FHA property appraisal?

An FHA appraisal is part of a process undertaken to qualify for a FHA mortgage loan. The appraiser has to check a long list of requirements concerned with the safety and soundness of the property being appraised. These requirements change every year.

I live in California and the single family home I stay in is being appraised by my landlord. Am I required to allow the appraiser to take pictures of every room in the house?

The CA landlord tenant laws state that the landlord and his agent need to give the tenant reasonable advance notice in writing before entering the property and they can do so only during normal business hours. This would generally mean 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. The notice would need to state the date and the approximate time, along with the purpose of entry.

With regard to taking pictures, part of the appraisal process includes taking pictures so the photos can be used if and when the property is listed. This step wouldn’t be considered a breach of the tenant’s use and quiet enjoyment since it is being undertaken legally.

My property which is zoned as a C2 property got a residential appraisal at $185,000. I want to sell it as a commercial property for $250,000. Does my property need to be zoned as a C1 property for this to happen?

Unfortunately, to sell a property as commercial property, it has to be zoned as such. If you do plan to sell a residential zoned property as a commercial property, the buyer could not only rescind the offer but also decide to sue you for damages later.

I recently received a property appraisal that is 20-30% lower than expected. It seems inaccurate and invalid as it is not based on available data like upgrades, remodelling, rental income, and so on. What can I do?

What you could do is to get a new appraisal done by another expert. If the new appraisal turns out to be much more than the previous one, you can demand your money back for the first one.

There are usually 3 ways to appraise a property:
  1. 1. Fair Market Value
  2. 2. Cost to Rebuild
  3. 3. Fair Rental Value

What the appraiser does is take all three into account while appraising the property and then decides which of the three ways reflects the property best, based on the analysis.

Also, remember that appraisals are based on "opinions" and can easily vary by 10% or more based on the current economic climate.

Appraisals that are lower than a seller’s asking price can jeopardize the loan and very often the sale of the property too. Before you dispute an appraisal, you should examine all the facts that went into appraising it. This could include factors like property sales in your neighborhood for the last six months, any differences like renovations and improvements that would make your property more valuable, and so on. If you have a strong case for a second appraisal, your lender could allow for it.
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