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

Aarons & Associates, Inc. is ready to talk to you about any questions you might have about appraisals in Nassau County. Feel free to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
What would cause me to need services from Aarons & Associates, Inc.?
How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?
What are the contents of an appraisal report?
Once the appraisal has been completed, what assurance is there that the value indicated is trustworthy?
How are appraisers certified?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Nassau 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?
What does "Market Value" mean?
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?



Describe an appraisal   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser performs an estimation that leads to an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which assists the real estate appraiser come to this opinion or estimate. One of the processes in use is the Cost Approach, which is what it would cost to restore the improvements to the home, minus depreciation and physical deterioration, adding the land value. Another of the processes is the Sales Comparison Approach - which deals with finding a comparison to other similar properties within a close proximity which have recently sold. Being the most commonly used approach, the Sales Comparison Approach is generally the most accurate and best indicator of market value for a residential property. 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 generated by the property.

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

An appraiser forumlates an impartial and well justified assessment of market value, in the support of real estate transactions. Appraisers illustate their expert analysis in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to need services from Aarons & Associates, Inc.?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are a lot of reasons to order an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for purchasing an appraisal report include:
  • To get a loan.
  • If you would like to reduce your property tax obligations.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove PMI.
  • To contest high property taxes.
  • If you need to settle an estate.
  • To offer you an edge when purchasing real estate.
  • To find a likely property value when listing your home.
  • To protect your rights if your property is being taken by means of eminent domain in a condemnation case.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS require an appraisal on every house.
  • If you are ever involved in a civil case.
For a more extensive explanation of the appraisal process click here.


How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?   (See list of FAQ's)

Appraisers do not do provide house inspections and are not home inspectors. The purpose of a home inspection is to investigate the structure of the property from basement to rooftop. Commonly, a home inspection report will discuss the amenities and the requirements of the property: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical services, 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.

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 utilizes market trends to create most of their business. An appraisal is based on comparable sales that can be verified by public record. The appraisal report will also include location and construction costs. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. Being a documented and carefully investigated opinion of value, appraisals are defensible and stand up in legal situations.

But the most significant factor is the person behind the report. Real estate agents, who may not have a complete understanding of valuation methods or the entire market, generate CMA's. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who makes a living out of valuing properties. Moreover, the appraiser is an independent voice, with no conditional interest in the value conclusion, unlike the real estate agent, who gets a commission based upon the price of the home.

What are the contents of an appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

The main objective of an appraisal document is to let the reader know the value of the real estate in question, and depending on the scope of the report, one will customarily see the following:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the report.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • The type of value reported and a definition of the value reported.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.
  • Characteristics of the property that have a bearing on the value, including: location, physical characteristics, legal attributes, economic attributes, the property rights in question, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, permanent equipment installations and even intangible factors.
  • Any 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 comprehensive look at what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the appraisal has been completed, what assurance is there that the value indicated is trustworthy?   (See list of FAQ's)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must make sure of the following:
  • That the information analysis utilized in the appraisal was appropriate.

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

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

  • The final appraisal report was transparent, credible and conclusive.
There are rigorous education and practical experience requirements that must be satisfied in order to get an appraisal license in New York. In addition, appraisers must stick to a meticulous industry code of ethics and respect national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for carrying out an appraisal and documenting 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 is commonly associated with many hours of coursework, tests and real world experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she is required to complete 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)

Most of the time, appraisers are called upon by mortgage lenders to render a value opinion on a home involved in a loan transaction - to make sure the real estate is indeed adequate collateral for the loan. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.

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

Collecting data is one of the primary things an appraiser does. Data can be split into Specific or General. Specific data is collected from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.

General data is gathered from a many sources. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) have information on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. Tax records and other public documents verify actual sales prices in a market. Appraisers routinely have 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 collective knowledge gained from 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 an appraisal. 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. If you're buying, it makes sure you don't overpay. For those settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Aarons & Associates, Inc. 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?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. It guards the lender in the event a borrower is unable to pay on the loan and the market price of the house is less than what is owed on 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 Aarons & Associates, Inc. today at 212-349-3944 to see if you can cancel your Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

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

We start with an inspection of the property. 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 amenities. The best thing you can do to help is make sure we have easy access to the exterior of the house . Trim any bushes and move any items that would get in our way while we measure the structure. Indoors, make sure the appraiser can get to appliances like furnaces and water heaters.

You can make our visit go faster and improve the quality of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • Information 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 "Homeowners Associations" agreements or, if applicable, condo covenants 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".

What does "Market Value" mean?   (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. Even though it's the buyer that eventually pays for the report, the lender is the intended user. The buyer is certainly entitled to a copy of the appraisal - 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 engages an appraiser directly. In these scenarios, 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.


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