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Real estate appraisal, property valuation or land valuation is the process of developing an opinion of value, for real property (usually market value). Real estate transactions often require appraisals because they occur infrequently and every property is unique (especially their condition, a key factor in valuation), unlike corporate stocks, which are traded daily and are identical (thus a centralized Walrasian auction like a stock exchange is unrealistic). The location also plays a key role in valuation. However, since property cannot change location, it is often the upgrades or improvements to the home that can change its value. Appraisal reports form the basis for mortgage loans, settling estates and divorces, taxation, and so on. Sometimes an appraisal report is used to establish a sale price for a property.
Once you’ve read the appraisal report and reviewed the appraiser’s supporting documents, you can challenge it if you think it is inaccurate or doesn’t take into consideration new or important data about the property or comparable homes. Most lenders review appraisals through a strict system of checks and balances that compares the appraisal report to other appraisals on all known sales in your neighborhood. This internal review system can catch discrepancies that should be investigated, but any information you can provide to your lender will help.
Remember this: appraisers are looking at the condition of what’s permanently part of or attached to the house. They’re not evaluating the décor or furniture or anything that’s not affixed to the property; what’s most important are your home’s physical characteristics (age, square footage, the number of bedrooms and baths, lot size, location, view) as well as their observable condition.
Federal law requires appraisers to have a state license or certification when working on federally related transactions, such as appraisals for loans made by federally insured banks and financial institutions. The Appraisal Foundation (TAF) offers information on appraisal licensing. There is no such federal requirement for assessors, although some states require certification. For state-specific requirements, applicants should contact their state board.
The Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes §119 and §286 safeguard every Floridian’s right of access to government meetings and public records. In Florida, disclosure is the standard, unless the Legislature allows an exemption or the records are otherwise confidential. Every citizen has the right to obtain public records that are not exempted or confidential. Citizens and the media can easily request public records from Pinellas County government. The requester is responsible for any cost of providing the documentation, which includes staff time, cost of copies and other costs that are associated with the request.