Suburban Homes

Real Estate Appraisal

Fresno, Tulare County, King's County, Madera County Real Estate Appraisals

Author Profile: marcosantarelli


Full Name:

In today’s day and age, there are many situations where you may need a real estate appraisal. An appraisal provides you with the clearest understanding of the value of your real estate.

Whether buying, selling, or refinancing, an appraisal helps you make well-informed decisions. By providing an unbiased estimate of a property’s value, an appraisal ensures that you know the real value of your property.

Beyond these most common scenarios, appraisals have numerous other use cases. Others include estate planning, property tax appeals, divorces, and gifting. With this comprehensive list, you’ll find the most common and some more uncommon reasons to get an appraisal.

1. Buying a Home

When buying a home, an appraisal can help you in two ways. One, as a way to know the value before making an offer, and two, for the mortgage process after making an offer.

In the first scenario, an appraisal gives you an objective perspective on the property’s value to ensure you don’t overpay for your new home.

I have had many clients who want to make an offer without a contingency or want to make sure their offer is competitive. The appraisal gives them peace of mind in either case.

In the second scenario, you may have already made an offer on a house. Mortgage lenders require an appraisal as part of the loan application process. This helps them determine the loan-to-value ratio and assess the risk associated with financing the property. Unless you pay all cash, getting a mortgage and finalizing your home purchase without an appraisal will be difficult.

2. Selling a Home

You may want an appraisal when you’re ready to sell your home.

The first is to ensure you’re pricing your home accurately (Often called a pre-listing appraisal). The second is to see potential improvements you can make. And third, to prove your property’s worth to potential buyers.

An appraiser will thoroughly evaluate your home, looking at location, size, age, and condition. They will also analyze local market trends, recent comparable sales, and your property’s unique features.

With this information, you can set a competitive price to attract buyers and maximize the sale.

The report can also help you identify areas needing repairs or improvements. Addressing these issues may lead to a quicker sale and a higher price.

During negotiations with buyers, having an appraisal can prove the property’s value in the case of any uncertainty. This can help establish credibility and lead to smoother and more successful negotiations.

3. Refinancing Your Mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage is an important decision, and getting an appraisal can be crucial to its success. The lender needs the information in the report, as it will help them assess the amount of risk related to your loan.

When you refinance, the goal is often to lower your interest rate and reduce your monthly payments or tap into your home’s equity as a source of funds. The appraisal helps in establishing the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.

The LTV is a percentage that represents the amount of money to lend compared to the home’s value. Lenders typically require the LTV ratio below a certain threshold, usually around 80%, to qualify for refinancing.

This means that if your home is worth $500,000, the maximum loan amount would be $400,000.

Refinances are common when interest rates are low but less common when interest rates are high. Even a 1% change in interest rate can result in hundreds or thousands of differences in your monthly payment.

4. Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit

In the same vein as a refinance is a home equity line of credit.

A home equity line of credit is like a credit card for your home. It takes the place of a second mortgage and allows you to borrow money against the equity in your home.

In a home equity line of credit (HELOC), the lender typically requires a full appraisal as part of the application process.

This evaluation helps establish the credit limit, ensuring you have enough equity in your property to support the line of credit.

Last Will img

5. Estate Planning

You can use appraisals for multiple purposes regarding estates and estate planning.

When planning your estate, you need to know the value of your real estate, and an appraisal does just that.

The report will help minimize the possibility of disputes in the future between beneficiaries or family members.

By providing clear evidence of the value of your assets, you can help avoid disagreements among your loved ones after you’re gone.

6. Estate Taxes

In some cases, local laws may require appraisals for estate tax purposes.

Depending on the total value of the real estate and/or the property’s location, taxes may be owed for the real estate.

Working with a certified appraiser to comply with these regulations and avoid potential penalties is important.

Another scenario is when it comes to capital gains tax. An appraisal is needed as of the date of death to determine the base value when calculating capital gains tax in the future.

7. Probate Proceedings

When a loved one passes away, you might be involved in probate. This often occurs when there is no will to determine which assets belong to who. It can also occur when “the decedent owned property that is not arranged specifically to avoid probate.” (source) The only way to obtain legal property ownership is to go through the probate process.

As an estate executor, you are responsible for managing and distributing assets according to the deceased’s will or state law. An appraisal can assist you in determining the value of the real estate.

Appraisers provide unbiased valuations that may help reduce any potential conflicts among beneficiaries.

8. Divorce Settlement

During a divorce settlement, you might need to determine the value of jointly-owned assets, including real estate. An appraisal is an essential part of this process. It helps ensure a fair and accurate distribution of assets between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

An appraisal will provide you with the current market value of your real estate. This can help your attorney make informed decisions during property division negotiations.

In some cases, if you and your spouse cannot agree on the value of your shared property, a court may require a professional appraisal. This independent valuation helps divide assets and avoid disputes in divorce proceedings.

9. Investment Analysis

Whether you are a single-family, multi-family, or even commercial investor, you could benefit from an appraisal.

An appraisal report provides the insights you need to better understand your property and the current market conditions. Whether you are deciding to hold, sell, or refinance it.

If requested, you’ll learn the current market value and even valuable income info. This could be in the form of a rental survey for a residential property or a full income analysis for a commercial property.

Knowing your property’s value may also help you evaluate any improvements’ return on investment (ROI). When you consider the cost of upgrades and the estimated impact on the value of your property, you can make better decisions.

An appraisal also offers essential insights into local market trends and comparable properties. By comparing your property against similar ones in the area, you can identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to maximize your investment.

10. Dispute Resolution

When you find yourself in a disagreement regarding the value of a property, an appraisal can serve as a neutral, third-party assessment.

You can substantiate your claims and provide evidence to support your position by getting an appraisal.

It’s not uncommon for property owners, insurance companies, or tax authorities to have contrasting opinions on the value of a property.

Appraisals can be useful in these situations to help resolve any disputes between parties.

11. Bail Bonds

When you need a bail bond, getting an appraisal is crucial in securing your release.

An appraisal helps determine the value of your property, which can be used as collateral for a bail bond. The collateral assures the bail bondsman that you will appear in court as required.

An appraisal report provides a detailed analysis of the current market value of your property. This can be presented to the bail bondsman to demonstrate your ability to cover the bond amount.

An appraisal can greatly increase your chances of obtaining a bail bond, as it removes some of the perceived risks for the bondsman.

12. Bankruptcy

When facing bankruptcy, an appraisal can help determine the true value of your real estate going forward.

The report not only aids in creating a realistic picture of your financial situation, but it can also serve as evidence in court proceedings.

During a bankruptcy, it is important to have an unbiased and transparent appraisal to ensure all parties involved have a clear understanding of the situation.

13. Donating Real Estate to a Non-Profit

Donating real estate to a non-profit organization can be a great way to give back to your community and support a cause you believe in.

Before you make this significant donation, getting an appraisal is important for several reasons.

Tax Benefits: Donating real estate to a non-profit may be eligible for a tax deduction based on the property’s fair market value. An appraisal will help establish this value and ensure you receive proper documentation for your tax records.

Setting a Clear Transaction Record: A professional appraisal provides a clear and objective valuation of your property. This will be helpful for both you and the non-profit to understand its worth and establish a transparent transaction record.

Supporting Your Non-Profit: Non-profits rely on donations like yours to help fund their missions. By providing an accurate appraisal, you can help the organization decide whether to sell, lease, or utilize it for its operations.

14. Property Tax Appeals

When it comes to property taxes, the assessed value can be accurate, but it may also be wildly inaccurate.

If you think you are overpaying, an appraisal can help fight your case with the tax authority.

An appraisal provides an unbiased opinion of your property’s value. This allows you to contest your property tax assessment confidently.

The appraisal will show discrepancies in your assessed value and help solidify your case.

I have personally done several property tax appeal appraisals for homeowners who purchased their homes during the market peak at the beginning of 2022 and are now worth significantly less. They have tried to fight the tax assessment with their own comparables, but the assessor doesn’t take them seriously. The assessor is more likely to consider a well-documented, professionally prepared appraisal by someone who knows what they are doing.

15. Renovating a Home

If you plan to renovate your home, getting an appraisal beforehand is smart.

While not completely necessary, it can help you in a valuable way.

An appraisal will show you the current value of your property but can even show you the value once completing the renovation if requested.
This can be a huge insight, especially if you are on the fence about the remodel in the first place.

Appraisers call this a “Subject To” appraisal and complete the report assuming the remodel has already been finished.

While some people online say that an appraisal will also tell you the improvements that can increase your home’s value, this is incorrect. An appraiser does not provide this information in the report. And others may say that an appraisal will specifically point out any issues with your home that must be addressed. This is also incorrect. Appraisers don’t inspect electrical, plumbing, insulation, or anything else.

One other use case when it comes to remodeling is for financing. If you are getting a construction or private money loan, the lender will most likely need a “Subject To” appraisal.

16. Government Acquisition of Private Property

When the government needs to acquire private property for public use, it may use something called eminent domain.

As a property owner, you should know the appraisal process during this acquisition. The appraisal determines the fair market value of your property, which is essential for just compensation.

An official appraiser will evaluate your property, consider its highest and best use, and compare it with similar properties in the area. This process ensures you receive a fair offer for your property.

You also have the right to hire your own appraiser to provide an independent opinion of the property’s value. Choosing a qualified appraiser with experience in eminent domain cases is essential.

Typically, the government will notify you of their intent to acquire your property. If an agreement on value cannot be reached, the government may file a condemnation action, in which the court decides on the property’s value. In either case, an accurate appraisal is crucial for ensuring fair compensation.

17. Rezoning Applications

When considering real estate investment or development, it’s important to understand the zoning regulations in your area. Zoning can impact your property’s value and the potential uses permitted on your land.

Obtaining an appraisal can provide valuable insights into whether rezoning would be worthwhile. An appraiser can assume a different zoning and appraise it as such. This can help you determine whether the rezoning is worth the time, money, and effort.

For example, if your property is zoned for residential use, but the appraisal reveals a higher value with a mixed-use designation. This can be valuable information to consider in your investment decisions.

Rezoning applications may also require you to have an updated appraisal of your property to demonstrate how the proposed change could affect its value.

This information will be beneficial in justifying your request for a change in zoning, especially if you face opposition from neighbors or local governing bodies.

18. Converting a Property to a Condominium or Cooperative

If you are considering a property conversion, you’ll absolutely want an appraisal.

Whether condos, co-op, or TIC units, an appraisal helps you understand the current value of the property and the market value of the future units. This will help you see what buyers are willing to pay and whether the conversion is feasible.

San Francisco is a huge market for tenancy-in-common (TIC) units. Investors often buy multi-family properties to convert to TIC units. There is often a huge upside in doing this, and it works in San Francisco because buyers are willing to pay. However, this wouldn’t work in 99% of the other cities in the world because most people would never pay. An appraisal would reveal this.

In addition, an appraisal can help determine the proper allocation of shares or ownership interests among the individual units. This allocation is typically based on each unit’s proportional value as part of the property. An appraiser’s valuation will contribute to a fair distribution of ownership rights.

19. Pre-foreclosure or Short Sale

When facing a pre-foreclosure or short-sale situation, a home appraisal is essential. The appraisal can help when negotiating with lenders or potential buyers.

When dealing with time-sensitive matters like a pre-foreclosure or short sale, obtaining an appraisal in a timely manner is of utmost importance.

Make sure to prioritize hiring a reliable appraiser who is familiar with your property’s location and the local real estate market.

20. Litigation Support

When you’re involved in legal disputes, an appraisal can help you to build a solid foundation for your case.

Appraisals often serve as expert testimony in various legal disputes, including divorce settlements, property tax appeals, and contractual disputes.

With a professional appraisal, your credibility will be strengthened, which can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

In addition to providing a reliable basis for property valuation, appraisals can also assist you in identifying hidden assets or uncovering inaccurate information about the property. This can be especially vital in situations such as:

An accurate appraisal can help avoid errors and penalties associated with under or over-reporting the property’s value.

21. Government Audits

A professional appraisal can be beneficial when dealing with government audits. It enables you to support your current property valuation accurately. This way, you can avoid any discrepancies in the government’s records regarding your property value.

Additionally, having an appraisal helps ensure compliance with tax laws.

Governments impose different taxes on properties, such as property taxes and capital gains taxes. By obtaining an appraisal, you’ll be able to determine the correct amount of taxes you need to pay based on the value of your property.

This will also provide the necessary documentation in case of tax authorities requesting supporting evidence.

House Keys img

22. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Removal

When you’re purchasing a home and can’t provide a 20% down payment, lenders usually require you to take out Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

By doing so, they protect themselves in case you default on your loan. However, once you’ve built enough equity in your home, it’s time to consider removing PMI to save you money in the long run.

First, find out how much equity you have in your home. To do this, check your mortgage statement to find your current loan balance. Then, look for the appraised value of your home. Divide the loan balance by the appraised value to find your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. Once your LTV ratio is below 80%, you can request PMI removal.

Your lender may require a new appraisal to confirm the current value of your home. This is where an appraisal comes in handy.

Once you’ve received an updated appraisal, submit the documentation to your lender. Lenders have different requirements for the removal process, but generally, you’ll need to provide the appraisal report, show proof of on-time mortgage payments, and ensure there aren’t any other liens on your property.

After submitting the required documentation, it’s important to follow up with your lender. If everything is in order, they should process your request to remove PMI from your mortgage. This could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the life of your loan.

23. Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT)

A Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) offers you a way to contribute significantly to a charity while also enjoying tax benefits and income for a period of time. By getting an appraisal done on your assets, you can determine the appropriate value when establishing a CRT.

When setting up a CRT, the first step is to transfer appreciated assets, such as real estate or stocks, into an irrevocable trust. These assets are then sold, and the proceeds are placed in an investment account that provides you, or a designated beneficiary, with income for the term of the trust.

Getting an appraisal is crucial for accurately determining the fair market value of your assets. The tax benefits you’ll receive, such as the charitable deduction and bypassing capital gains tax, depend on the appraised value.

24. Real Estate Owned (REO) Properties

When dealing with Real Estate Owned (REO) properties, it’s essential to get an appraisal. As a buyer or investor, you’ll gain a clearer understanding of the property’s true market value, which can help you make informed decisions during the purchasing process.

REO properties often result from a foreclosure, where the lender takes ownership after the borrower defaults on the mortgage. These properties could be priced below market value, providing you with a unique investment opportunity. However, it’s crucial to know what you’re getting into before making a decision.

An appraisal will provide valuable insights into the property’s condition and quality of improvements. This information helps you evaluate whether the property is priced appropriately, considering its current state and potential repair costs.

Moreover, an accurate appraisal plays a significant role in securing financing for the purchase. Lenders typically require an appraisal to confirm the property’s value before approving a mortgage. If the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, you can negotiate with the lender or the seller to adjust the price accordingly.

25. Fractional Ownership Arrangements

When considering a fractional ownership arrangement, getting an appraisal is helpful to determine the property’s accurate value.

This will help you understand your ownership share and ensure you’re making a sound investment.

Knowing the property’s value and ownership percentage, you can better manage your investment and avoid disputes with other co-owners.

Calculator img

26. Portfolio Management

As a property owner, portfolio management is crucial to maximizing the value and returns on your investments. An appraisal is an essential tool for managing your property portfolio effectively.

An appraisal gives you an accurate and up-to-date understanding of your property’s current market value. This knowledge allows you to make better-informed decisions when it comes to selling, refinancing, or leveraging your investments.

An appraisal also enables you to assess your portfolio’s performance and make necessary adjustments.

For example, if a specific property’s value has increased significantly, you may choose to sell at a profit and reinvest in another promising venture.

Similarly, if a property’s value has decreased, you may want to reconsider your investment strategy for that particular asset.