Mark Heckman Real Estate Appraisers
1309 Bridge Street, New Cumberland, PA 17070 - Phone: (717) 774-7202 Fax: (717) 774-0383

What is a real estate appraisal?

An appraisal is a professional appraiser's opinion of value of a particular property. The preparation of a real estate appraisal involves research into a neighborhood, region, or a certain market area; the assembly and analysis of information about a property; and the knowledge, experience, and professional judgment of the appraiser. Appraisals may be required for any type of property, including single-family homes, apartment buildings and condominiums, office buildings, retail stores, shopping centers, industrial sites, and farms. The reasons for performing a real property appraisal are just as varied. They are usually required whenever real property is sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed. For example, appraisals are prepared for:

  • Mortgage lending purposes
  • Tax assessments and appeals of assessments
  • Negotiation between buyers and sellers
  • Government acquisition of private property for public use
  • Business mergers or dissolutions
  • Lease negotiations
  • Matters under litigation

What is the role of the appraiser?

The role of the appraiser is to provide objective, impartial, and unbiased opinions about the value of real property—providing assistance to those who own, manage, sell, invest in, and/or lend money on the security of real estate. Appraisers assemble a series of facts, statistics, and other information regarding specific properties, analyze this data, and develop opinions of value. Each appraisal assignment challenges the appraiser's ability to put analytical skills into practice, exercise sound judgment, and communicate effectively.

Are there different types of real estate appraisers?

There are two main categories of real estate (real property) appraisers:

  • Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser: Someone who is qualified to appraise one to four residential units without regard to value or complexity.
  • Certified General Real Property Appraiser: Someone who is qualified to appraise all types of real property, residential and non-residential.

What qualifications must appraisers have?

As with all states, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires appraisers to be state licensed in order to provide appraisals to federally regulated lenders (most banks and mortgage companies) and other clients. To become licensed or certified, appraisers must pass an examination that is administered by the State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers. At the national level the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) of The Appraisal Foundation is authorized by Congress to establish the minimum requirements for Certified General Real Property Appraiser and Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser classifications.

Appraisers must have fulfilled rigorous education and experience requirements to become licensed, and. they are required to take approved continuing education courses in order to maintain their licenses.

Why engage a professional appraiser?

To protect your financial well being and your investments, it is important that you engage a valuation professional. Whether it is real estate, a business, or personal property, consumers should engage a professional appraiser for an independent and impartial analysis of their property. Appraisers must adhere to strict standards and a code of professional ethics. Following an established code of conduct focusing on conduct and ethics, such as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), is a cornerstone of a professional appraiser.

What should I expect from the professional appraiser I engage?

Appraisers adhere to a written set of performance standards known as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The U.S. Congress has recognized USPAP as the generally accepted set of standards for professional appraisal practice in the United States. By following USPAP an appraiser helps foster public trust in valuation through:

  • Impartiality and Objectivity: An appraiser must be independent, impartial, and objective. An appraiser’s opinion of value must not be biased.
  • Ethical Conduct: An appraiser will adhere to a generally recognized code of ethical conduct which is contained in USPAP.
  • Full Disclosure: An appraiser will disclose all relevant information to ensure that the appraisal is understandable to the user, and not misleading.
  • Confidentiality: An appraiser will treat confidential information as such.
  • Competency: A professional appraiser should have knowledge and experience having performed similar assignments.
  • Independence: An appraiser cannot be compensated based upon the results of the appraisal.

What are the most important considerations in the valuation of real estate?

Most appraisals are reported in writing, although in certain circumstances, an appraiser may provide an oral appraisal. A written appraisal report generally consists of: a description of the property and its locale; an analysis of the “highest and best use” of the property; an analysis of sales of comparable properties “as near the subject property as possible”; and information regarding current real estate activity and/or market area trends. The value indicated by recent sales of comparable properties, the current cost of reproducing or replacing a building, and the value that the property’s net earning power will support are the most important considerations in the valuation of real estate property.

What services do appraisers provide?

In addition to residential and/or commercial appraisals — and depending upon an appraiser’s designation and qualifications — he or she can provide or assist with some or all of the following:

  • Estate planning and estate settlements
  • Tax assessment review and advice
  • Advice in eminent domain and condemnation property transactions
  • Dispute resolution — including divorce, estate settlements, property partition suits, foreclosures and zoning issues
  • Feasibility studies
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Market rent and trend studies
  • Cost/benefit or investment analysis, e.g., financial return on remodeling
  • Land utilization studies
  • Supply and demand studies

When hiring an appraiser, what types of questions should I ask?

The following questions would be appropriate:

  • What professional designations do you have and from whom?
  • Are you licensed or certified in the state in which you live?
  • How long have you been in practice?
  • What level of experience do you have in this particular market and with this type of property?
  • Are you familiar with property in this neighborhood?
  • What types of clients have you had (homeowners, estates, lenders, relocation companies)?
  • Will you provide me with references?
  • Will you provide me with an estimate of the fee you will charge for your services?

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Mark Heckman Real Estate Appraisers

1309 Bridge Street, New Cumberland, PA 17070 - Phone: (717) 774-7202 Fax: (717) 774-0383

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