Independent appraisal companies, in this day of an uncertain real estate market, are vast in numbers and varied in quality. Finding a good one means a little research on your part by interviewing the independent appraisers on the phone and contacting their respective state appraisal boards to view published disciplinary action status which is usually public information and readily available online.
Before you call for your interview, have your property information available and have your questions well thought out such as the residential or commercial real estate appraisal fees, turn around time and availability for questions about the report. There are several associations of independent fee appraisers that you can email or call for suggestions of what questions to ask or guide you in a direction so that you can be solid in your thinking.
When interviewing your independent fee appraiser, consider the following additional questions to ask:
1. How long they have been appraising and are they state certified to perform independent real estate appraisals?
2. How many comparables will they use? Do they use closed sales only or do they also use active listings?
3. Will they include any statistical or analytical information to further support the market value?
Know the difference between commercial and residential appraisal companiesCommercial real estate appraisers are certified to appraise both residential and commercial properties. Residential appraisers are certified to appraise only residential properties and residential income properties up to 4 units. You have a choice. Make it a wise one.
Investigate the independent fee appraiser you chooseYou may find an independent real estate appraisal company that has been disciplined several times in the past. It is in your best interest to get more information and make sure that your final appraisal company has a clean record or a good explanation for the disciplinary action.
HUD provides a site that provides you with the status (active or inactive) and any sanctions. Check out the Appraisal Institute, a national association of independent fee appraisers, which provides additional information on fraud, recent actions to the industry and more.
Interview appraisal companiesA good independent fee appraiser has no issue with telling you their methodology and what they will include. Some independent fee appraisers will charge an additional fee for more comparables, others will include them at no extra cost. By the 4th interview, you will have picked up enough knowledge and key words that you will be able to understand their vocabulary and ask your questions in their language.
AppraiserUSA.com and USAppraisals.Info both have a free national appraisal database which is easy to use and provides the types of service performed by the appraisal companies and the counties they serve.
- Commercial real estate appraisal fees are substantially higher. If this is what you need, make sure you inquire about the price and the report contents.
- Use a referred independent fee appraiser, preferably referred by a real estate agent or ask the appraisal company for at least two references you can check.