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ProQuest Group has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

ProQuest Group is willing to talk to you about any concerns you might have about appraisals in Katy and Fort Bend County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

What is an appraisal?
What does an appraiser do?
Why would someone require a real estate appraisal?
How is an appraiser different than a home inspector?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?
What's in an appraisal report?
After completing the report, how can I have assurance that the final number is trustworthy?
What are the requirements to be a certified appraiser?
Who hires ProQuest Group
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Fort Bend County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?
I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?



What is an appraisal?   (Top)

An appraisal is an estimation leading to an opinion of value. The appraiser will use a few "approaches," typically three, to draw up the estimation of market value. The Cost Approach is one of the approaches that real estate appraisers use to find the value of a home; it involves finding what the improvements would cost minus physical depreciation, plus the land value. The most common approach in figuring the likely sales price of a home is the Sales Comparison Approach which involves figuring a comparison to comparable houses close by. Being the most commonly used approach, the Sales Comparison Approach is generally the most accurate and best indicator of market value for a residence. The Income Approach is primarily used for determining the market value of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of capital a property produce.

What does an appraiser do?   (Top)

An appraiser generates a professional, unbiased determination of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers summarize their professional investigation in appraisal reports.


Why would someone require a real estate appraisal?   (Top)

There are a lot of reasons to get an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for ordering an appraisal report include:
  • To obtain a loan.
  • If you would like to lower your property tax burden.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove Primary Mortgage Insurance.
  • To contest improperly assessed property taxes.
  • To handle an estate.
  • To give you a negotiating tool when purchasing real estate.
  • To find a reasonable property value when putting your home on the market.
  • To protect 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 be involved in a lawsuit - an appraisal will help.
Click here for a more extensive explanation of the process dealing with getting an appraisal.


How is an appraiser different than a home inspector?   (Top)

Home inspectors do not estimate an opinion of value and do not use the same forms as appraisers. A third-party home inspector will investigate the structure of the property, from the top to the bottom. Generally, a home inspection report will discuss the amenities and the requirements of the home: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical functions, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural integrity of the home such as the attic, accessible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and visible structures.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?   (Top)

Frankly, it's night and day. The CMA utilizes market trends to conduct most of their business. An appraisal utilizes comparable sales that can be validated by records. The appraisal report will also include area and building costs. A CMA delivers a "ball park figure." Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

The person creating the report is hands down the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Real estate agents, who may not have a true grasp of valuation methods or the entire market, write CMA's. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who makes a living out of valuing properties. Further, 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's in an appraisal report?   (Top)

Each appraisal should reflect a believable estimate of value and will clearly state the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The reason for the assignment.
  • The type of value contained and a definition of that value.
  • The effective date of the appraisal.
  • Pertinent property characteristics, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic attributes, 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.
  • 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 job.
For a more comprehensive view of all that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


After completing the report, how can I have assurance that the final number is trustworthy?   (Top)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must ensure the following:
  • The appraisal used an appropriate analysis of the data.

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

  • That appraisal services were rendered in a careful and conscientious manner.

  • That a solid, substantiated appraisal report was conferred.
There are intense classroom and real world experience requirements that must be fulfilled in order to get an appraisal license in Texas. In addition, appraisers must abide by a stringent industry code of ethics and respect national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The tenets for working up an appraisal and communicating its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Top) Licensing and certification is achieved through classroom study, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she must then take continuing education courses so the license remains up to date. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who hires ProQuest Group   (Top)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical client, needing their services to ensure real estate involved in a mortgage transaction is enough to cover a loan balance in the case of default. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Fort Bend County or other areas?   (Top)

Gathering data is one of the primary tasks an appraiser performs. Data can be categorized as either Specific or General. Specific data is taken from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are documented by the appraiser while on site.

General data is gathered from a numerous sources. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) provide data on recently sold homes that could be used as comparables. Tax records and other public documents reveal actual sales prices in a market. Appraisers routinely need to report when a property lies in a flood zone, and that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

And most importantly, the appraiser assembles general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from doing assignments for other properties in the same market.


What can a full appraisal do for me?   (Top)

If you're making any kind of financial decision and the value of your home is relevant, you'll want to hire a licensed appraiser. When selling your home, an appraisal will help you determine a price that maximizes profit and reduces time on the market. When buying, you can avoid overpaying by commissioning an independent appraisal. For people settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from ProQuest Group is the best documentation to ensure assets are split up fairly. Simply put, a home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Without knowing its real value, wise financial decisions are impossible.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Top)

PMI is an acronym for Private Mortgage Insurance. This added policy takes care of the lender in the event a borrower defaults on the loan and the value of the property is lower than the loan balance. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

Does your monthly house payment have a lineitem for PMI?Call ProQuest Group today at 281-676-4501 or send us an e-mail. Documentation of your home's present value could save you thousands.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (Top)

We begin with an inspection of the property. During this process, we will come to your home and measure it, determine the layout of the rooms inside, confirm all aspects of the home's general condition, and take several photos of your house for inclusion in the report. Is there anything you can do to help? Yes there is! First, be sure the appraiser has easy access to the exterior of the house . Trim any landscaping and move any items that would get in our way while we measure the structure. Indoors, make sure we can get to items like furnaces and water heaters.

You can make the inspection go faster and improve the accuracy of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if available).
  • A list of any personal property that will be left behind and sold with the home, such as a oven, or a washer and dryer, if applicable.
  • Title policy that lists encroachments or easements.
  • A list of any major home improvements and enhancements, the amount of their purchase and date of their installation (for example, the addition of Energy efficiency upgrades or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • Locate copies of the current listing agreement, broker's data sheet and, in the event of a pending sale.

How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?   (Top)

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."



Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?   (Top)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders the appraisal, either directly or through a third party. 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 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.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner hires an appraiser directly. In these situations, the appraiser may stipulate the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not noted otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.


I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?   (Top)

A home's location - what city it is in and even what part of that city - is key to this popular question. 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

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 were second, returning 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.