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Christopher Greco Appraisal Services, Inc has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Christopher Greco Appraisal Services, Inc is ready to answer any concerns you might have about appraisals in Westchester County. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your specific valuation problems.

Define the term "Appraisal"
What does an appraiser do?
Why would someone request your services?
Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?
What does the appraisal report contain?
Once the appraisal is done, how can I have assurance that the value indicated is trustworthy?
What does it mean for an appraiser to be licensed?
Who engages the services of appraisers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Westchester County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Should I do anything in advance of the appraisal inspection
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?



Define the term "Appraisal"   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraisal is an evaluation that concludes with an opinion of value. The real estate appraiser will typically use a few "approaches," typically three, to arrive at the estimation of market value. The Cost Approach is one of the processes that appraisers use to find value; it involves figuring what the improvements would cost without physical depreciation, adding the land value. The most common approach in finding the value of a house is the Sales Comparison Approach which deals with figuring a comparison to comparable homes nearby. Being the most popular approach, the Sales Comparison Approach is generally the most precise and best indicator of market value for a property. The Income Approach is mainly used for determining the market value of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of capital a property would bring in.

What does an appraiser do?   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser provides a professional, unbiased determination of market value, often in the context of a real estate sale. Appraisers document their professional conclusions in appraisal reports.


Why would someone request your services?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are a lot of reasons to purchase an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for getting an appraisal report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • If you would like to reduce your property tax obligations.
  • To help a homeowner realize if they owe less than 80% of their home's value and remove insurance.
  • To contest high property taxes.
  • If you need to settle an estate.
  • To provide you an edge when purchasing real estate.
  • To determine a reasonable sales price when putting your home on the market.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • It's possible you could be involved in a lawsuit - an appraisal will definitely help.
For a more detailed explanation of the appraisal process click here.


Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?   (See list of FAQ's)

Home inspectors do not figure out an opinion of value and do not do appraisal reports. A third-party home inspector will evaluate the structure of the home, from the top to the bottom. The standard property inspector's report will contain an evaluation of the integrity of the house's heating systems, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and accessible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?   (See list of FAQ's)

Frankly, it's like comparing Shakespeare to reality TV. The CMA uses market trends to generate most of their business. An appraisal relies on comparable sales that can be validated by records. Area and building values are also a priority in an appraisal. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

But the most significant factor is the person creating the report. 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, state licensed professional who bases a career on valuing homes in and around Westchester County is behind the appraisal. Likewise, the agent has something at stake since they get a commission based on the property's selling price whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to accept a flat sum for assignments, regardless of their outcome.

What does the appraisal report contain?   (See list of FAQ's)

The main point of an appraisal report is to let the reader know the value of the real estate in question, and depending on the scope of the report, you'll usually see the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the appraisal.
  • The reason for the appraisal.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • 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 valuation, such as personal property, items that are more or less permanently installed and even intangible items.
  • All 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 process of completing the assignment.
For a more comprehensive view of all that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the appraisal is done, how can I have assurance that the value indicated is trustworthy?   (See list of FAQ's)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must ensure the following:
  • The appraisal contained a suitable analysis of the information.

  • That substantial errors of omission or commission were not committed individually or collectively.

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

  • The final appraisal report was clear, legitimate and not easily discredited.
There are rigorous education and practical experience requirements that must be adhered to in order to achieve the status of "licensed appraiser" in New York. Likewise, appraisers must abide by a strict industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The tenets for working up an appraisal and reporting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (See list of FAQ's) Licensing and certification is achieved through coursework, tests and experience working under a supervisory appraiser. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she must then complete continuing education courses so the license stays up to date. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who engages the services of appraisers?   (See list of FAQ's)

Commonly, appraisers are called upon by lenders to estimate the value of a home involved in a loan transaction - to make sure the house is truly adequate collateral for the loan. Attorneys and CPAs also retain the services of appraisers for divorce and estate settlements.

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

One of the primary tasks an appraiser engages in is to assimilate property data. Data can be split into Specific or General. Specific data is collected from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are gathered by the appraiser while on site.

General data is gathered from a variety of places. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) have data on recently sold homes that could be used as comparables. Tax records and other courthouse documents verify actual sales prices in a market. Flood zone data is gathered from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood servers.

And most importantly, the appraiser assembles general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from creating appraisals for other houses in the same market.


How can a licensed appraiser help me?   (See list of FAQ's)

Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. For those selling a home, you'll want to determine 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 house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Knowing its true value is essential to making the right financial decisions.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. This added policy guards the lender if a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the value of the house is less than the loan balance. 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 Christopher Greco Appraisal Services, Inc today at (914) 469-5946 or send us an e-mail. Documentation of your home's present value could save you thousands.

Should I do anything in advance of the appraisal inspection   (See list of FAQ's)

We start with an inspection of the property. 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. Is there anything you can do to help? Yes there is! First, be sure we have easy access to the exterior of the house (gates aren't locked, etc). Trim any bushes and move any items that would get in our way while we measure the structure. On the inside, make sure the appraiser can get to appliances like furnaces and water heaters.

To help expedite our work plus ensure a more accurate report, try if possible to have the following items:
  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if available).
  • A list of any personal property that is part of the home and you intend to be sold with the home, such as an oven, or a washer and dryer, if applicable.
  • Home inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, your septic system and wells.
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker's data sheet and Purchase Agreement if a sale is "pending".
  • Most recent real estate tax bill and or legal description of the property.

How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?   (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."



Who has rights to the appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders the appraisal, either directly or through a third party. Even though it's the buyer that eventually pays for the report, the lender is the intended user. 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.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these situations, 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)

This really depends on where the home is. For example, adding a central air conditioner in to a home in the South may add significant value, while putting one in a home near the Pacific Northwest might not have much impact.

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, yielding 85%. On the contrary, work that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.