Atlantic Appraisal Solutions, LLC has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Atlantic Appraisal Solutions, LLC is prepared to reply to any questions you might have about appraisals in Virginia Beach and Virginia Beach City County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

What is an appraisal?
Describe what an appraiser does
What would cause me to require a real estate appraisal?
How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What does the appraisal report contain?
After completing the appraisal, how can I have confidence that the value indicated is valid?
How are appraisers certified?
Who hires an appraiser?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Virginia Beach City 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?
Do you need anything from me in advance?
Define "Market Value"
Who actually owns the appraisal report?
Are some home improvements more worthwhile than others?



What is an appraisal?   (List of questions)

An appraisal is an evaluation that concludes with an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which helps the appraiser arrive at this opinion or estimate. One of the methods in use is the Cost Approach, which evaluates what it would cost to restore the improvements to the house, minus age and physical dilapidation, plus the land value. Easily the most common approach in finding the value of a house is the Sales Comparison Approach which involves making a comparison to comparable homes nearby. The Sales Comparison Approach is normally the most accurate and clearest indicator of value for a residential property. One of the least common approaches in appraising houses is the Income Approach, which is mainly used to find the value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the income produced by the building.

Describe what an appraiser does   (List of questions)

An appraiser forumlates a professional, unbiased opinion of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers document their professional conclusions in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to require a real estate appraisal?   (List of questions)

There are many reasons to order an appraisal with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for purchasing an appraisal include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • To reduce your property taxes.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove insurance.
  • To contest inflated property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To give you an edge when purchasing a home.
  • To figure out an honest price when listing your home.
  • To defend 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.
  • It's possible you could have to deal with being in a lawsuit - an appraisal will help.
For a more detailed explanation of the appraisal process click here.


How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?   (List of questions)

Appraisers do not do perform home inspections and are not home inspectors. A third-party home inspector will investigate the structure of the property, from the top to the foundation. Commonly, a home inspection report will discuss the amenities and the requirements of the property: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical systems, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural capacity of the home such as the attic, visible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and other visible structures.

My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?   (List of questions)

To be honest, they share nothing in common. The CMA depends on vague market trends. The appraisal is based on specific definite comparable sales. Also, the appraisal looks at other factors like condition, neighborhood and replacement costs. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." Being a documented and carefully investigated opinion of value, appraisals are defensible and stand up in legal situations.

Who's behind the report is actually the most significant difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is written by a real estate agent who may or may not have a true grasp of the market or valuation concepts. The appraisal is produce 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 whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to collect only a flat sum for work they perform, regardless of their outcome.

What does the appraisal report contain?   (List of questions)

The main purpose of an appraisal document is to provide a value opinion, and depending on the scope of the report, you'll usually see the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser 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 value opinion.
  • Characteristics of the property that have a bearing on the value, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic factors, the property rights valued, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, trade fixtures and even intangible items.
  • 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 included in the process of completing the appraisal.
For a more detailed look at all that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


After completing the appraisal, how can I have confidence that the value indicated is valid?   (List of questions)

In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must see to it that each of the items below are covered:
  • The appraisal used an apropos analysis of the data.

  • Whether individually or collectively, there were no significant errors contained in the appraisal, nor any material details left out.

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

  • The final appraisal report was transparent, legitimate and defensible.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must fulfill intense education and experience requirements that train us to produce an unbiased opinion. Plus, appraisers must follow a strict industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for carrying out an appraisal and reporting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (List of questions) Licensing and certification is achieved through coursework, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she must then engage in continuing education courses so the license remains current. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who hires an appraiser?   (List of questions)

Typically, appraisers are called upon by lenders to render a value opinion on a home involved in a loan transaction - to make sure the subject is truly adequate collateral for the loan. Attorneys and CPAs also retain the services of appraisers for divorce and estate settlements.

Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Virginia Beach City County or other areas?   (List of questions)

Collecting data is one of the primary tasks an appraiser engages in. Data can be split into Specific or General. Specific data is collected from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered by the appraiser while on site.

General data is collected from a numerous places. To research recently sold homes to be used as "comps", we often use the local Multiple Listing Service. To verify actual sales prices, we research items in the assessor's office and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Flood zone data is gathered from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood system.

And most importantly, the appraiser assembles general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from creating appraisals for other houses in the same market.


What can a full appraisal do for me?   (List of questions)

Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. If you're selling your home, an appraisal assists you in setting the most appropriate price. When buying, you can avoid overpaying by getting an independent appraisal. For those settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Atlantic Appraisal Solutions, LLC is the best way to ensure assets are divided fairly. A home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Without knowing its real value, wise financial decisions are impossible.


My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?   (List of questions)

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. This supplemental plan guards 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.

The savings from getting rid of the PMI required when you got your mortgage will make up for the price of the appraisal in a matter of months. Atlantic Appraisal Solutions, LLC has years of experience with value trends in Virginia Beach and Virginia Beach City County. Contact us today.

Do you need anything from me in advance?   (List of questions)

The first step in most appraisals is the home 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 status 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 get in our way while we measure the structure. On the inside, make sure the appraiser can get to appliances like furnaces and water heaters.

To help expedite our work plus ensure a more accurate report, attempt if possible to have the following items:
  • Records on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years.
  • A list of any personal property that is part of the home and you intend to be sold with the home, such as an oven, or a washer and dryer, if applicable.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and wells.
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and upgrades, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of central air conditioning or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • A list of "proposed" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

Define "Market Value"   (List of questions)

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."



Who actually owns the appraisal report?   (List of questions)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. 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.

It's different when it's the homeowner engaging the appraiser for things outside securing a mortgage. In these situations, the appraiser may state how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.


Are some home improvements more worthwhile than others?   (List of questions)

The answer to this is different depending upon the location of the home. For example, while quality appliances are attractive, a $7000 built-in refrigerator won't pay off in a neighborhood of moderately priced homes

No matter where you go, however, renovating a kitchen is almost always a safe investment. 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, returning 85%. On the contrary, work that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.