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Gardner Consulting Services, Inc. has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Gardner Consulting Services, Inc. is always happy to address any questions you might have about appraisals in Orange County. Contact Gardner Consulting Services, Inc. today to talk about how we can help you with your valuation problems.

Define the term "Appraisal"
Describe what an appraiser does
What would cause me to require a real estate appraisal?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?
What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?
After completing the appraisal, how can I have confidence that the value conclusion is trustworthy?
What goes into an appraiser's certification?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Orange County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?
Does the appraiser need anything from me in advance?
What is "Market Value?"
Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?
I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?



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

The appraisal process is an evaluation that generates an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is discerned through a formal method that typically uses the three main "common approaches to value". One of the processes in use is the Cost Approach, which finds what it would cost to replace the improvements to the property, less the age and physical deterioration, plus the land value. Another of the approaches is the Sales Comparison Approach - which deals with finding a comparable analysis to other similar properties within a close vicinity which have recently sold. Generally speaking, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most definite indicator of market value of a house. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is of most importance in appraising income producing properties - it deals with estimating what an investor would pay based on the money produced by the property.

Describe what an appraiser does   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser produces an unprejudiced and well substantiated opinion of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers reveal the details of their professional conclusions in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to require a real estate appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are many reasons to order an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for getting an report include:
  • To obtain a loan.
  • If you would like to reduce your property tax obligations.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove PMI.
  • To challenge improperly assessed property taxes.
  • If you need to settle an estate.
  • To offer you an edge when purchasing a home.
  • To determine an honest price when listing your home.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you are ever involved in a civil case.
For a more detailed description of the appraisal process click here.


What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (See list of FAQ's)

Home inspectors do not provide an opinion of value and are not appraisers. An inspection is a third-party evaluation of the available structure and systems of a house, from the top to the bottom. Generally, a home inspection report will discuss the amenities and the necessities of the house: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical systems, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural integrity of the home such as the attic, accessible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and visible structures.

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

Simply, they share nothing in common. The CMA uses market trends to conduct most of their business. An appraisal is based on comparable sales that can be verified by public record. Also, the appraisal looks at other factors like condition, location and construction costs. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

The credentials of the person behind the report is actually the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is created by a real estate agent who may or may not be trained in technical valuation concepts or even have a handle on market trends. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who makes a living out of valuing properties. Likewise, the agent has something at stake since they get a commission based on the property's selling price - their commission - whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to collect only a previously agreed upon sum for assignments, regardless of their value conclusion.

What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

Each report must demonstrate a credible value opinion and will clearly state the following:
  • The client and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • 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!)
  • Relevant property attributes, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic factors, the real property interest in question, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, trade fixtures and even intangible considerations.
  • 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.
  • The scope of work used to complete the appraisal.
For a more detailed look at what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


After completing the appraisal, how can I have confidence that the value conclusion is trustworthy?   (See list of FAQ's)

In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must ensure the following:
  • That the information analysis contained in the appraisal was suitable.

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

  • That appraisal services were not rendered in a careless or negligent manner.

  • The final appraisal report was transparent, legitimate and conclusive.
There are intense education and real world experience requirements that must be fulfilled in order to get an appraisal license in Florida. Likewise, appraisers must obey a meticulous industry code of ethics and observe national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for working up an appraisal and communicating its results are guaranteed 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 practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she must then complete continuing education courses in order to keep the license up to date. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who are an appraiser's customers?   (See list of FAQ's)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical customer, using their services to ensure a home involved in a mortgage transaction is enough to cover a loan balance in the case of default. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.

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

Collecting information is one of the primary functions of an appraiser. Data can be categorized as either Specific or General. Specific data is taken from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are noted by the appraiser during an inspection.

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

And most importantly, the appraiser gathers general data from his or her past experience in doing assignments for other houses in the same market.


What can a full appraisal do for me?   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraisal is a valuable tool whenever the value of your home is pertinent to some financial decision. For those selling a home, you'll want to figure out 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. When buying, be sure you're not overpaying by getting an independent appraisal. For people settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Gardner Consulting Services, Inc. is the best way to ensure assets are split up fairly. A house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Don't make decisions in the dark with a professional appraisal.


My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. This added policy protects the lender in case a borrower defaults on the loan and the value of the property is less than the balance of the loan. 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.

Did you have less than 20% to put down on your mortgage? Contact Gardner Consulting Services, Inc. today at 4078391021 to see if you can get rid of your Private Mortgage Insurance payment.

Does the appraiser need anything from me in advance?   (See list of FAQ's)

We start with an inspection of the home. 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. The best thing you can do to help is make sure we have easy access to the exterior of the house . Trim any landscaping and relocate any items that would make it difficult to measure the structure. On the inside, make sure we can easily access items like furnaces and water heaters.

You can make our visit go faster and improve the accuracy of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if available).
  • List of personal property to be sold with the building.
  • Title policy that describes encroachments or easements.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, your septic system and wells.
  • Information on "Homeowners Associations" or condominium covenants and fees.

What is "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."



Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?   (See list of FAQ's)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders the appraisal, either directly or through a third party. While the buyer pays for the report as part of the closing costs, the lender retains the right to use the report or any information contained within. The buyer is certainly entitled to a copy of the report - it's usually bundled with all the other closing documents - but is not allowed to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner hires an appraiser directly. In these cases, 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.


I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?   (See list of FAQ's)

Like all things real estate, this is dependent on a home's location. For example, installing an inline humidifier could be nice in arid regions, but completely useless near the coast!

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 weren't far behind, yielding 85%. Adding bedrooms and baths can also increase the value of your home as long as your home doesn't then become an oddball for your neighborhood in terms of size.