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Caton Appraisers, LLC has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Caton Appraisers, LLC is always willing to address any concerns you might have about appraisals in Saint Louis County. Contact us today to learn how we can help solve your specific valuation problems.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
Why would someone require services from Caton Appraisers, LLC?
Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What's in an appraisal report?
After completing the appraisal, how can I have confidence that the final number is legitimate?
How are appraisers certified?
Who are an appraiser's customers?
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Saint Louis County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Do you need anything from the homeowner in advance?
Define "Market Value"
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?



Describe an appraisal   (List of questions)

An appraisal is an evaluation that concludes with an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which helps the appraiser arrive at this opinion or estimate. One of them is the Cost Approach - which is how much it would cost to replace the improvements, less physical deterioration and other factors, then adding the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach deals with searching for similar homes in the vicinity and finding value based on comparing those houses to the property being investigated. Being the most common approach, the Sales Comparison Approach is generally the most accurate and best indicator of market value for a house. One of the least common approaches in appraising homes is the Income Approach, which is generally used to determine the market value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the income produced by the building.

What does an appraiser do?   (List of questions)

An appraiser offers an objective and well justified assessment of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers present their expert analysis in appraisal reports.


Why would someone require services from Caton Appraisers, LLC?   (List of questions)

There are many reasons to order an appraisal with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for obtaining an report include:
  • To get a loan.
  • To reduce your tax burden.
  • To build a case for a homeowner's equity and remove insurance.
  • To challenge improperly assessed property taxes.
  • If you need to take care of an estate.
  • To give you a negotiating tool when purchasing real estate.
  • To determine the most probable price 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.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you ever find yourself in a lawsuit.
For a more extensive explanation of the appraisal process click here.


Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?   (List of questions)

The appraiser is not a home inspector nor does he/she do a full home inspection. The point of a home inspection is to evaluate the structure of the house from bottom to rooftop. The standard property inspector's report will include an evaluation of the integrity of the property's heating systems, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?   (List of questions)

Simply put, it's like comparing opera to country. What the CMA depends on are vague trends. An appraisal utilizes comparable sales that can be validated by records. Also, the appraisal looks at other factors like condition, neighborhood 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.

The credentials of the person creating the report is frankly 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, create CMA's. The appraisal is produce by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Further, the appraiser is an independent party, with no vested interest in the value of a home, unlike the real estate agent, whose income is tied to the value of the home.

What's in an appraisal report?   (List of questions)

Each appraisal must indicate a credible value opinion and must document the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The reason for the appraisal.
  • The type of value contained and a definition of the value reported.
  • The effective date of the appraiser's opinions and conclusions.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Relevant property characteristics, 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 considerations.
  • All 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 considered 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 appraisal, how can I have confidence that the final number is legitimate?   (List of questions)

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

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

  • That appraisal services were not carried out in a careless or negligent manner.

  • The final appraisal report was transparent, credible and conclusive.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must meet considerable education and experience requirements that prepare us to formulate an unbiased opinion. Plus, appraisers must abide by a strict 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 insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (List of questions) Licensing and certification requires classroom study, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she is required to engage in 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?   (List of questions)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical customer, using their services to ensure real estate involved in a mortgage transaction is adequate collateral for a 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 Saint Louis County or other areas?   (List of questions)

Gathering information is one of the primary functions 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 specifics are documented by the appraiser while on site.

General data is collected from a many places. To look up recent sales to be used as "comps", an appraiser will often use the local Multiple Listing Service. To verify actual sales prices, we use tax records and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Flood zone data is available from FEMA data outlets, 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 creating appraisals for other houses in the same market.


What can a full appraisal do for me?   (List of questions)

Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. If you're selling your house, an appraisal assists you in setting the most appropriate price. If you're buying, it makes sure you don't overpay. If you're engaged in an estate settlement or divorce, it ensures that property is divided 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?   (List of questions)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. It takes care of the lender if a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the value of the home 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.

The amount you keep from cancelling your PMI will make up for the price of the appraisal in no time. Nobody is more qualified than Caton Appraisers, LLC when it comes to analyzing real estate appreciation in Ballwin and Saint Louis County. Contact us today.

Do you need anything from the homeowner in advance?   (List of questions)

We begin 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 features. The best thing you can do to help is make sure the appraiser has easy access to the exterior of the house (gates aren't locked, etc). Trim any shrubs and move any items that would get in our way while we measure the structure. On the inside, make sure the appraiser can easily access appliances like furnaces and water heaters.

You can make things go faster and improve the accuracy of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • Information on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years.
  • List of personal property to be sold with the building.
  • Title policy that lists encroachments or easements.
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and enhancements, the amount of their purchase and date of their installation (for example, the addition of Insulation or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • Find copies of the current listing agreement, broker's data sheet and, if the sale is "pending", the purchase agreement.

Define "Market Value"   (List of questions)

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?   (List of questions)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. 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 report - 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.

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 stated otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


Which home renovations add the most to the price?   (List of questions)

The answer to this is different depending upon the location of the home. 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 are right up there with kitchens, returning 85%. On the contrary, an improvement that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.