15 February 2008

How should I choose which real estate appraiser to use?

Homeowners who are seeking a property appraiser often ask "How should I choose which real estate appraiser to use?" When selecting a property appraiser, keep the following in mind:


Always make sure a property appraiser is licensed or certified by the state to perform real estate appraisals. While state licensing and/or certification isn't always an indication of quality, it ensures that an individual is has met certain standards and been authorized to perform property appraisals. Some states do not require licensing to perform real estate appraisals. It is unwise to use the services of any professional who is not licensed or certified.

Don't be afraid to ask an appraiser for a copy of their license. A good appraiser will readily provide this documentation. Copies of licenses are commonly requested by mortgage brokers and loan officers. Once you get a copy of their license, it's a good idea to check with the government agency which issued the document to ensure the license is active and in good standing.

Many excellent real estate appraisers carry a professional designation. The most widely known industry designations are SRPA, SRA and MAI. These designations are issued by the Appraisal Institute. These designations demonstrate an appraiser's commitment to continuing education and ethical standards. Oftentimes, the standards required to obtain these designations exceed those set forth by state licensing/certified requirements.

Ask the real estate appraiser what percentage of their work is performed in the neighborhood in which the property is located. Appraisers who do a lot of their work or live in a particular area often have a deep knowledge of property values in that area. Additionally, they are more likely to know how "neighborhood variables" such as school districts and fire departments affect the property values in the area.

Lastly, find out if the property appraiser has experience performing appraisals for consumers as opposed to real estate professionals. Mortgage brokers and loan officers have distinctly different needs than homeowners. An appraiser who understands the needs of homeowners is more likely to help you learn about the appraisal process and answer questions you may have along the way.

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