RVS, INC. has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

RVS, INC. is always ready to address any questions you might have about appraisals or real estate in Chautauqua County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
Describe what an appraiser does
What are the reasons someone would need your services?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What are the contents of an appraisal report?
Upon completion of the report, how can I have confidence that the value indicated is valid?
How are appraisers certified?
Who engages the services of appraisers?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in Chautauqua County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Does the appraiser need anything from the homeowner in advance?
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   (Go to list of  questions)

The process of producing an appraisal report deals with an inspection which forms an opinion of value. The real estate appraiser will use a few "approaches," typically three, to conclude the estimation of market value. One of the methods is the Cost Approach - which is what it would cost to replace the improvements, minus physical deterioration and other factors, plus the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach involves finding similar homes in the vicinity and finding value based on comparing those prior sales to the property in question. The Sales Comparison Approach is normally the most accurate and best indicator of a liklely sales price for a residence. One of the least common approaches in appraising residential properties is the Income Approach, which is generally used to determine the value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the income produced by the property.

Describe what an appraiser does   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraiser produces an unprejudiced and well supported determination of market value, in the support of real property exchanges. Appraisers show their professional findings in appraisal reports.


What are the reasons someone would need your services?   (Go to list of  questions)

There are many reasons to purchase an appraisal from RVS, INC. with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for obtaining an appraisal report include:
  • To receive a loan.
  • If you would like to lower your property tax obligations.
  • To build a case for a homeowner's equity and remove Primary Mortgage Insurance.
  • To contest improperly assessed property taxes.
  • To deal with an estate.
  • To give you a leg-up when purchasing real estate.
  • To find the most probable property value when putting your home on the market.
  • To defend your rights if your property is being taken by means of eminent domain in a condemnation case.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS need an appraisal on every house.
  • If you are ever involved in a lawsuit.
For a more extensive explanation of the appraisal process click here.


What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (Go to list of  questions)

Appraisers do not do complete home inspections and are not home inspectors. An inspection is a third-party investigation of the available structure and electrical and mechanical systems of a property, from the top to the bottom. Generally, a home inspection report will explain the amenities and the necessities of the house: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical functions, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural capacity of the home such as the attic, accessible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and visible structures.

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

To be blunt, it's like comparing sugar and saccharin. The CMA depends on vague market trends. Appraisals use comparable sales which are valid resources. The appraisal report will also contain location and building prices. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

But the most significant factor is who's behind the report. Real estate agents produce CMA's, and they don't always know the whole market or bear specific competence when it comes to home valuation. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Likewise, the agent has something at stake since they get a commission based on the property's selling price - their commission - whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to accept a flat sum for assignments, regardless of their value conclusion.

What are the contents of an appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

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:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the appraisal.
  • 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 attributes, legal attributes, economic attributes, the property rights 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 considerations.
  • 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 while working up the assignment.
For a more detailed view of the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Upon completion of the report, how can I have confidence that the value indicated is valid?   (Go to list of  questions)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must see to it that each of the items below are covered:
  • That the information analysis implemented in the appraisal was suitable.

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

  • That appraisal services were rendered in a careful and judicious fashion.

  • The final appraisal report was clear, credible and not easily discredited.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must fulfill extensive education and experience requirements that enable us to produce an unbiased opinion. Plus, appraisers must abide by a strict industry code of ethics and observe national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The tenets for carrying out an appraisal and reporting its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Go to list of  questions) Licensing and certification is achieved through classroom study, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she must then engage in continuing education courses in order to keep the license up to date. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who engages the services of appraisers?   (Go to list of  questions)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's most likely client, requiring their services to ensure property 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 data used to estimate values in Chautauqua County or other areas?   (Go to list of  questions)

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

General data is collected from a many sources. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) have information on recently sold homes that could be used as comparables. To verify actual sales prices, we research tax records and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Appraisers often need to report when a property is in a flood zone, so 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?   (Go to list of  questions)

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. For those selling a home, you'll want to determine the price that gets you the most profit but also ensures you don't have to wait too long for a buyer to show up; 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 RVS, INC. is the best way to ensure assets are split up properly. Simply put, a house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Knowing its true value is essential to making wise financial decisions.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Go to list of  questions)

PMI is an acronym for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI covers the lender if a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the market price of the house is less than what is owed on 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.

Has your real estate appreciated since you first purchased? Contact RVS, INC. today at (716) 679-1728 to see if you can cancel your Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

Does the appraiser need anything from the homeowner in advance?   (Go to list of  questions)

We begin 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 features. On the home's interior, pick up any clutter and make sure we can access things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any bushes so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of outside walls.

The following items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time:
  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if readily available).
  • A list of any personal property that is part of the home and you intend to be sold with the home, such as a oven, or a washer and dryer, if applicable.
  • Title policy that lists encroachments or easements.
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and enhancements, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of Insulation or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • A list of "proposed" improvements if the property is to be appraised "as complete".

What does "Market Value" mean?   (Go to 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 has rights to the appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

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 entitled to a copy of the appraisal - it's usually bundled with all the other closing documents - but is not entitled 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 cases, the appraiser may define 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 use the appraisal for any purpose.


I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?   (Go to list of  questions)

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

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%. On the contrary, work that may not add value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.