Although appraisers and assessors of real estate work in offices, they may spend a large part of their time conducting site visits to assess properties. Time spent away from the office depends on the specialty. For example, residential appraisers tend to spend less time on office work than commercial appraisers, who might spend up to several weeks analyzing information and writing reports on one property. Appraisers who work for banks and mortgage companies generally spend most of their time inside the office, making site visits only when necessary.
The Trainee Appraiser level does not have an experience requirement. Each Trainee Appraiser must be supervised to get the required hours of experience before applying for the Licensed Residential Appraiser level. Locating a certified appraiser is a very important step to becoming an appraiser. The trainee and supervisory appraiser must keep a log of work completed that will be reviewed when the trainee applies for any license to the state regulatory body. Effective January 1, 2015, all new Trainee (Beginning) Appraisers and Supervisory Appraisers are required to complete an approved Supervisor/Trainee course before they will be able to log experience hours.
In addition, there are professional appraisal organizations, organized as private non-profit organizations that date to the Great Depression of the 1930s. One of the oldest in the United States is the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), which was founded in 1929. Others were founded as needed and the opportunity arose in specialized fields, such as the Appraisal Institute (AI) and the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) founded in the 1930s, the International Right of Way Association and the National Association of Realtors which were founded after World War II. These organizations all existed to establish and enforce standards, but their influence waned with increasing government regulation. In March 2007, three of these organizations (ASFMRA, ASA, and AI) announced an agreement in principle to merge. NAIFA (National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers), a charter member of The Appraisal Foundation, helped to write Title XI, the Real Estate Appraisal Reform Amendments. It was founded in 1961.
A home appraisal is an unbiased estimate of the true (or fair market) value of what a home is worth. All lenders order an appraisal during the mortgage loan process so that there is an objective way to assess the home’s market value and ensure that the amount of money requested by the borrower is appropriate. The appraisal can include recent sales information for similar properties, the current condition of the property, and the location of the property, i.e., insight as to how the neighborhood impacts the property’s value.
As mentioned before, an appraiser can generally choose from three approaches to determine value. One or two of these approaches will usually be most applicable, with the other approach or approaches usually being less useful. The appraiser has to think about the "scope of work", the type of value, the property itself, and the quality and quantity of data available for each approach. No overarching statement can be made that one approach or another is always better than one of the other approaches.
Lenders want to make sure that homeowners are not overborrowing for a property because the home serves as collateral for the mortgage. If the borrower should default on the mortgage and go into foreclosure, the lender will recoup the money it lent by selling the home. The appraisal helps the bank protect itself against lending more than it might be able to recover in this worst-case scenario.
When evaluating a property's value, appraisers note the characteristics of the property and surrounding area, such as a view or noisy highway nearby. They also consider the overall condition of a building, including its foundation and roof or any renovations that may have been done. Appraisers photograph the outside of the building and some of the interior features to document its condition. After visiting the property, the appraiser analyzes the property relative to comparable home sales, including lease records, location, view, previous appraisals, and income potential. During the entire process, appraisers record their research, observations, and methods used in providing an estimate of the property’s value.
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