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JSW & Associates Appraisers, Inc. has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

JSW & Associates Appraisers, Inc. is happy to handle any questions you might have about appraisals in Clearwater and Pinellas County. Contact JSW & Associates Appraisers, Inc. today to see how we can help you with your specific valuation problems.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
Why would I require your services?
Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What does the appraisal report contain?
Upon completion of the report, what assurance is there that the final number is trustworthy?
What goes into an appraiser's certification?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does JSW & Associates Appraisers, Inc. get the data used to estimate values in Pinellas County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
Define "Market Value"
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?



Describe an appraisal   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraisal report is an investigation that concludes with an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which assists the appraiser arrive at this opinion or estimate. One of the methods in use is the Cost Approach, which is what it would cost to replace the improvements to the home, less the age and physical deterioration, plus the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach involves finding similar houses in close proximity and discovering the value based on comparing those properties to the home being appraised. Generally speaking, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most accurate indicator of market value of a residential property. The Income Approach is mainly used for figuring out the market value of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of income a property produce.

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

An appraiser offers an objective and well supported opinion of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers present their findings in appraisal reports.


Why would I require your services?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are many reasons to order an appraisal from JSW & Associates Appraisers, Inc. with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for obtaining an report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • To reduce your tax burden.
  • To demonstrate a homeowner's acquired equity and remove PMI.
  • To fight high property taxes.
  • To handle an estate.
  • To provide you a negotiating tool when purchasing real estate.
  • To find a reasonable sales price when selling your home.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS need an appraisal on every house.
  • It's possible you could have to deal with being in a lawsuit - an appraisal will help.
If you need more information regarding the appraisal process, please click here.


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

The appraiser is not a home inspector and he or she does not do a full home inspection. An inspection is a third-party investigation of the livable structure and mechanical systems of a house, from the top to the foundation. The general property inspector's report will include an evaluation of the condition of the house's heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?   (See list of FAQ's)

To be blunt, it's apples and oranges. What the CMA depends on are ill-defined trends. An appraisal is based on comparable sales that can be verified by records. Location and construction prices are also important in an appraisal. A CMA delivers a "ball park figure." An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

The person creating the report is hands down the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is written by a real estate agent who may or may not be trained in technical valuation concepts or even have a handle on market trends. A certified, Florida licensed professional who bases their livelihood on valuing real estate in and around Pinellas County is behind the appraisal. Further, the appraiser is an unbiased voice, with no conditional interest in the value of a home, unlike the agent, whose income is tied to the price of the home.

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

The main objective 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:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • 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 appraisal.
  • Characteristics of the property that have a bearing on the value, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic factors, the real property interest valued, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, items that are more or less permanently installed and even intangible considerations.
  • All known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and the like.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • What was involved in the activity of completing the appraisal.
For a more comprehensive look at what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Upon completion of the report, what assurance is there that the final number is trustworthy?   (See list of FAQ's)

In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must ensure the following:
  • The appraisal used an apropos analysis of the data.

  • Whether individually or collectively, there were no crucial errors contained in the report, nor any relevant details left out.

  • That appraisal services were done in a careful and conscientious fashion.

  • The final appraisal report was transparent, legitimate and conclusive.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are intense education requirements as well as real world experience that must be attained - all with the objective of gaining the skills required to render unbiased value opinions. Likewise, appraisers must stick to a strict industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for developing an appraisal and communicating its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (See list of FAQ's) Regulations regarding licensing and certification of Real Estate Appraisers vary from state to state. In general, licensing and certification typically translates to many hours of classroom study, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she must then engage in continuing education courses so that the license doesn't expire. 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 most likely client, requiring their services to ensure real estate 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 JSW & Associates Appraisers, Inc. get the data used to estimate values in Pinellas County or other areas?   (See list of FAQ's)

One of the primary activities of an appraiser is to compile data. Data can be divided into Specific or General. Specific data is from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered by the appraiser while on site.

General data is collected from a many places. To look up recently sold homes to be used as "comps", we typically go to the local Multiple Listing Service. To verify actual sales prices, we research items in the assessor's office and other public documents. Appraisers routinely need to report when a property lies in a flood zone, so that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood service.

And most importantly, the appraiser assimilates general data from his or her past experience in creating appraisals for other houses in the same market.


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

If you're involved in some sort of financial decision and the value of your home is relevant, you'll want to hire a licensed appraiser. For those selling a home, you'll want to figure out a 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, you can avoid overpaying by commissioning an independent appraisal. For those settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from JSW & Associates Appraisers, Inc. is the best way to ensure assets are divided properly. Simply put, a home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Without knowing its real value, wise financial decisions are impossible.


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

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. It protects the lender in the event a borrower is unable to pay on the loan and the market price of the home is lower than what is owed on the loan. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

The savings from getting rid of your PMI pays for the appraisal in no time. Nobody is more qualified than JSW & Associates Appraisers, Inc. when it comes to analyzing real estate appreciation in Clearwater and Pinellas County. Contact us today.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (See list of FAQ's)

The first step in most appraisals is the home inspection. During this process, we will come to your home and measure it, determine the layout of the rooms inside, confirm all aspects of the home's general condition, and take several photos of your house for inclusion in the report. 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 we can easily access appliances like furnaces and water heaters.

The following items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time:
  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if readily available).
  • A list of any personal property that is part of the home and you intend to be sold with the home, such as a oven, or a washer and dryer, if applicable.
  • A bill for your most recent real estate taxes which should also contain a legal description of the property.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and your well.
  • A list of "proposed" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

Define "Market Value"   (See list of FAQ's)

In real estate appraising, Market Value (as opposed to Fair 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)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. 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 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 hires an appraiser directly. In these situations, the appraiser may define the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stated otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


How can I get the most ROI out of home improvements?   (See list of FAQ's)

It really depends on the market. For example, if you live in a cold region, insulated windows can be a real plus. But they aren't as attractive in a warm-weather climate.

As a rule, the most value returned 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 were second, returning 85%. On the contrary, work that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.