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Vision Appraisal Services LLC has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Vision Appraisal Services LLC is willing to talk to you about any inquiries you might have about appraisals in Augusta County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
Describe what an appraiser does
What would cause me to need your services?
Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What's in an appraisal report?
Once the appraisal has been completed, how can I have certainty that the final number is veritable?
How hard is it to become certified?
Who employs appraisers?
Where does Vision Appraisal Services LLC get the information used to estimate values in Augusta County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Does the appraiser need anything from the homeowner in advance?
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?
Are some home improvements more worthwhile than others?



Describe an appraisal   (Return to top)

The appraisal process is an estimation that generates an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which assists the real estate appraiser conclude this opinion or valuation. The Cost Approach is one of the methods that appraisers use to find value; it involves finding what the improvements would cost less physical degradation, plus the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach deals with finding comparable houses in close proximity and finding value based on comparing those houses to the house being investigated. Usually, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most definite indicator of market value of a residential property. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is the best method in appraising income producing properties - it deals with estimating what an investor would pay based on the money generated by the property.

Describe what an appraiser does   (Return to top)

An appraiser offers a professional, unbiased assessment of market value, in the support of real estate transactions. Appraisers demonstrate their professional findings in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to need your services?   (Return to top)

There are a lot of reasons to purchase an appraisal from Vision Appraisal Services LLC with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for ordering an appraisal include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • If you would like to lower your property tax obligations.
  • To help a homeowner realize if they owe less than 80% of their home's value and remove PMI.
  • To contest improperly assessed property taxes.
  • If you need to settle an estate.
  • To provide you a leg-up when purchasing real estate.
  • To determine the most probable price when listing your home.
  • To protect your rights if your property is being taken by means of eminent domain in a condemnation case.
  • Because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you ever find yourself in a lawsuit.
Click here for a more detailed explanation of the process involved in getting an appraisal.


Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?   (Return to top)

Home inspectors do not figure out an opinion of value and are not appraisers. The purpose of a home inspection is to evaluate the structure of the house from bottom to rooftop. The stereotypical property inspector's report will contain an evaluation of the integrity of the house's heating system, 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.

Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?   (Return to top)

Simply, they share nothing in common. The CMA uses market trends to create most of their business. An appraisal is based on comparable sales that can be validated by records. Location and building costs are also a priority in an appraisal. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

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 have a true grasp of the market or valuation concepts. A certified, Virginia licensed professional who made a career on valuing properties in and around Augusta County creates the appraisal. 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 fee for work they perform, regardless of their outcome.

What's in an appraisal report?   (Return to top)

Each report must reflect a credible estimate of value and will clearly state the following:
  • The client and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • The intended use of the appraisal.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the appraisal.
  • Pertinent property characteristics, including: location, physical description, 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.
  • Any 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 process of completing the appraisal.
For a more comprehensive view of the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the appraisal has been completed, how can I have certainty that the final number is veritable?   (Return to top)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must make sure of the following:
  • The appraisal contained analysis of the information.

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

  • That appraisal services were not executed in a careless or negligent fashion.

  • That a credible, substantiated appraisal report was imparted.
There are rigorous classroom and on the job experience requirements that must be fulfilled in order to get an appraisal license in Virginia. In addition, appraisers must abide by a strict industry code of ethics and respect national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The tenets for carrying out an appraisal and communicating its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Return to top) Regulations regarding licensing and certification are different from state to state. However, licensing and certification typically translates to many hours of classroom study, tests and real world experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she is required to take continuing education courses so the license remains up to date. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who employs appraisers?   (Return to top)

Commonly, appraisers are employed by lenders to render a value opinion on real estate involved in a loan transaction - to make sure the house is indeed adequate collateral for the loan. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does Vision Appraisal Services LLC get the information used to estimate values in Augusta County or other areas?   (Return to top)

Gathering data is one of the primary roles of an appraiser. Data can be divided into Specific or General. Specific data is gathered from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered 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 public documents verify actual sales prices in a market. Flood zone data is available from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

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?   (Return to top)

If you're involved in any kind of financial decision and the value of your home matters, 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, be sure you're not overpaying by getting an independent appraisal. For those settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Vision Appraisal Services LLC is the best way to ensure assets are split up fairly. A home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Don't make decisions in the dark with a professional appraisal.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Return to top)

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. This additional plan covers the lender if a borrower is unable to pay on the loan and the value of the house is less than the balance of the loan. Once you reach the point where your home's equity plus the amount you've paid is at least 20% of your loan balance, you can have your PMI dropped.

Did you secure your mortgage with less than 20% down? Call Vision Appraisal Services LLC today at (540) 248-6400 to see if you can get rid of your Private Mortgage Insurance payment.

Does the appraiser need anything from the homeowner in advance?   (Return to top)

The first step in most appraisals is the property inspection. 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 amenities. On the home's interior, make sure it is clutter free and that we can access things like furnaces and water heaters. In the yard, trim any landscaping so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of exterior walls.

The following items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time:
  • Any information on the purchase of the property for the last three years.
  • A list of any personal property that will be left behind and sold with the home, such as an oven, or a washer and dryer, if applicable.
  • Any "Homeowners Associations" agreements or, if applicable, condo agreements or fees .
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker's data sheet and Purchase Agreement if a sale is "pending".
  • A list of "proposed" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?   (Return to top)

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."



Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?   (Return to top)

For mortgage transactions, the lender requests 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 entitled to a copy of the report - it's usually included with all the other closing documents - but is not allowed to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

This rule doesn't apply when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these cases, the appraiser may state how the appraisal can be used; 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.


Are some home improvements more worthwhile than others?   (Return to top)

The added value of a particular amenity truly depends on the local market. For example, putting in an inline humidifier could be nice in arid regions, but completely useless near the coast!

As a rule, the most value returned from renovating a home comes in the kitchen. One recent study revealed that putting $20,000 into a kitchen remodel would add about $17,500 to the value of the home - or about an 88% return on investment. Bathrooms are right up there with kitchens, yielding 85%. Adding bedrooms and baths can also help the value of your home (when done well) as long as your home doesn't then become atypical for your neighborhood in terms of size.