B & J APPRAISALS, INC. has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

B & J APPRAISALS, INC. is always eager to address any questions you might have about appraisals in NEW ROCHELLE and Westchester County. Feel free to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
What would cause me to need services from B & J APPRAISALS, INC.?
Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?
Once the assignment has been delivered, how can I have confidence that the final number is trustworthy?
How hard is it to become certified?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Westchester County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
What is "Market Value?"
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?



Describe an appraisal   (Back to top)

The method of creating an appraisal deals with an estimation which leads to an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is arrived at through a formal method that generally uses three "common approaches to value". The Cost Approach is one of the methods that appraisers use to find the value of a house; it involves discerning what the improvements would cost less physical deterioration, plus the land value. Another of the approaches is the Sales Comparison Approach - which concerns finding a comparable analysis to other similar properties within a close vicinity which have recently sold. Being the most popular approach, the Sales Comparison Approach tends to be 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 capital generated by the property.

What does an appraiser do?   (Back to top)

An appraiser provides a professional, unbiased opinion of market value, in the support of real estate exchanges. Appraisers summarize their expert analysis in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to need services from B & J APPRAISALS, INC.?   (Back to top)

There are many reasons to order an appraisal with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for ordering an report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • If you would like to reduce your property tax burden.
  • To help a homeowner realize if they owe less than 80% of their home's value and remove PMI.
  • To fight inflated property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To provide you an edge when purchasing a home.
  • To find the most probable property value when putting your home on the market.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you are ever involved in a lawsuit.
If you need a more detailed explanation of the appraisal process, please click here.


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

Appraisers do not do provide residential property inspections and are not home inspectors. An inspection is a third-party evaluation of the accessible structure and systems of a property, from the roof to the bottom. Usually, a home inspection report will explain the amenities and the requirements of the house: 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, exposed insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and visible structures.

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

Simply, they share nothing in common. The CMA depends on indefinite local market trends. Appraisals use comparable sales which are verifiable resources. In addition, the appraisal verifies other factors like condition, area and construction costs. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

Who's creating the report is hands down the most significant difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Real estate agents, who may not have a complete understanding of valuation methods or the entire market, generate CMA's. A certified, state licensed professional who made their livelihood on valuing homes in and around Westchester County is behind the appraisal. Moreover, the appraiser is an unbiased party, with no vested interest in the property's value, unlike the real estate agent, who gets a commission based upon the price of the home.

What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?   (Back to top)

Every report must indicate a supported estimate of value and should identify the following:
  • The client and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • The intended use of the report.
  • The reason for the appraisal.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.
  • Relevant property attributes, 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, items that are more or less permanently installed 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.
  • The scope of work used when completing the assignment.
For a more comprehensive view of what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the assignment has been delivered, how can I have confidence that the final number is trustworthy?   (Back to top)

In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must ensure the following:
  • That the information analysis contained in the appraisal was proper.

  • That major errors of omission or commission were not committed individually or collectively.

  • That appraisal services were delivered in a careful and cognizant fashion.

  • That a believable, substantiated appraisal report was communicated.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are education requirements as well as on the jobexperience that must be logged. In addition, appraisers must obey a meticulous industry code of ethics and respect national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for working up an appraisal and communicating its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Back 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 practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she must then 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?   (Back to top)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's most likely customer, needing their services to ensure a home involved in a mortgage transaction is adequate collateral for a loan. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Westchester County or other areas?   (Back to top)

Collecting information is one of the primary occupations of an appraiser. Data can be described as either Specific or General. Specific data is from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are documented by the appraiser during an inspection.

General data is received from a variety of places. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) have information on recently sold homes that could be used as comparables. Tax records and other courthouse documents reveal actual sales prices in a market. Appraisers often need to report when a property is in a flood zone, and that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

And last but not least, the appraiser assimilates general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from doing assignments for other houses in the same market.


How can a licensed appraiser help me?   (Back to top)

Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. When selling your house, an appraisal will help you determine the most appropriate price. When buying, you can avoid overpaying by getting an independent appraisal. For parties settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from B & J APPRAISALS, INC. is the best way to ensure assets are split up properly. 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?   (Back to top)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI covers the lender if a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the value of the home is less than the loan balance. 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 B & J APPRAISALS, INC. today at 914-654-8849 to see if you can cancel your Private Mortgage Insurance payment.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (Back to top)

We start with an inspection of the home. 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. Inside, pick up any clutter and make sure we can get to things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any bushes 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:
  • A survey or plot map of the property and building (if readily available).
  • List of personal property to be sold with the building.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and wells.
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker's data sheet and Purchase Agreement if a sale is "pending".
  • Most recent real estate tax bill and or legal description of the property.

What is "Market Value?"   (Back to top)

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 has rights to the appraisal report?   (Back to top)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders the appraisal, either directly or through a third party. While the buyer pays for the report as part of the closing costs, the lender retains the right to use the report or any information contained within. The buyer is certainly entitled to a copy of the report - it's usually included with all the other closing documents - but is not entitled to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner hires an appraiser directly. In these scenarios, the appraiser may define how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not noted otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


Which home renovations add the most to the price?   (Back to top)

It really depends on the market. For example, if you're in a neigborhood of small to medium priced homes, a media room may not be something people in that price range want

No matter where you go, however, renovating a kitchen is almost always a safe move. 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 increase 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.