Ashcroft and Associates has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Ashcroft and Associates is prepared to answer any concerns you might have about appraisals or real estate in Vancouver and Clark County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

What is an appraisal?
Describe what an appraiser does
What are the reasons someone would request services from Ashcroft and Associates?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
Is an appraisal the same as a comparative market analysis(CMA)?
What's in an appraisal report?
Once the assignment has been completed, what assurance is there that the value indicated is veritable?
How are appraisers certified?
Who do appraisers work for?
Where does Ashcroft and Associates get the information used to estimate values in Clark County or other areas?
Why do I need a professional appraisal?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
What does "Market Value" mean?
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?   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser performs an estimation that produces an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is found through a formal process that typically uses three "common approaches to value". The Cost Approach is one of the processes that real estate appraisers use to find the value of a property; it involves finding what the improvements would cost without physical deterioration, plus the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach deals with searching for comparable houses in close proximity and discovering the value based on making a comparison of those prior sales to the house in question. The Sales Comparison Approach is commonly the most accurate and clearest 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   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser generates an unbiased and well justified determination of market value, in the support of real property exchanges. Appraisers illustate their conclusions in appraisal reports.


What are the reasons someone would request services from Ashcroft and Associates?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are many reasons to obtain an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for purchasing an appraisal include:
  • To obtain a loan.
  • To reduce your tax burden.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove insurance.
  • To contest high property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To give you a negotiating tool when purchasing a home.
  • To figure out 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.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS need an appraisal on every house.
  • If you ever find yourself in a lawsuit.
Click here for a more detailed explanation of the process about getting an appraisal.


What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (See list of FAQ's)

Appraisers do not do provide house inspections and are not home inspectors. The purpose of a home inspection is to investigate the structure of the home from bottom to attic. The stereotypical house inspector's report will include an evaluation of the integrity of the home's heating system, 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)?   (See list of FAQ's)

Frankly, it's night and day. The CMA uses market trends to generate most of their business. The appraisal depends on specific proven comparable sales. In addition, the appraisal checks other factors like condition, area and replacement prices. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

But the biggest difference is the person creating the report. Real estate agents write CMA's, and they don't always know the whole market or have specific competence when it comes to home valuation. A certified, Washington licensed professional who bases their livelihood on valuing homes in and around Clark County creates the appraisal. Likewise, the agent has something at stake since they get a commission based on the property's selling price whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to accept a flat fee for work they perform, regardless of their outcome.

What's in an appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

Every report must demonstrate a credible value opinion and will document the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the report.
  • The purpose of the appraisal.
  • The type of value contained and a definition of the value reported.
  • The effective date of the appraisal.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Relevant property attributes, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic factors, the real property interest valued, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, trade fixtures 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.
  • What was involved in the process of completing the assignment.
For a more in depth look at the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the assignment has been completed, what assurance is there that the value indicated is veritable?   (See list of FAQ's)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must ensure the following:
  • That the information analysis contained in the appraisal was appropriate.

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

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

  • That a solid, substantiated appraisal report was conferred.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must fulfill considerable education and experience requirements that prepare us to formulate an unbiased opinion. In addition, appraisers must stick to a stringent industry code of ethics and observe national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The tenets for carrying out an appraisal and documenting its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (See list of FAQ's) Regulations regarding licensing and certification of Real Estate Appraisers vary from state to state. In general, licensing and certification is most often associated with many hours of coursework, tests and real world experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she must then take continuing education courses so that the license doesn't expire. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who do appraisers work for?   (See list of FAQ's)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical customer, using their services to ensure a home involved in a mortgage transaction is adequate collateral for a loan. Attorneys and CPAs also hire appraisers for divorce and estate settlements.

Where does Ashcroft and Associates get the information used to estimate values in Clark County or other areas?   (See list of FAQ's)

One of the most important things an appraiser does is to compile property data. Data can be classified as either Specific or General. Specific data is collected from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.

General data is received from a number of sources. To find out about recent sales to be used as "comps", an appraiser will often go to the local Multiple Listing Service. To double-check actual sales prices, we look at tax records and other public documents. Flood zone data is gathered from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood service.

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


Why do I need a professional appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. For those selling a home, you'll want to figure out a price that gets you the most profit but doesn't leave your home on the market too long; an appraisal can help with that. 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. A home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Don't make decisions in the dark with a professional appraisal.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI is the common abbreviation for for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI takes care of the lender in case a borrower defaults on the loan and the market price of the property is lower than the balance of the loan. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

The savings from dropping the PMI required when you got your mortgage will make up for the cost of the appraisal in no time. Nobody is more qualified than Ashcroft and Associates when it comes to analyzing real estate appreciation in Vancouver and Clark County. Contact us today.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (See list of FAQ's)

The first step in most appraisals is the home inspection. 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 condition of its features. On the home's interior, pick up any clutter and make sure we can find our way to things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any landscaping so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of exterior walls.

To help speed things along plus ensure a more accurate report, attempt if possible to have the following items:
  • A survey or plot map of the property and building (if available).
  • Title policy that lists encroachments or easements.
  • Information on "Homeowners Associations" or condominium covenants and fees.
  • 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).
  • Most recent real estate tax bill from Clark and or legal description of the property.

What does "Market Value" mean?   (See list of FAQ's)

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?   (See list of FAQ's)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. 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 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 state how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated 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?   (See list of FAQ's)

This really depends on where the home is. 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 were second, 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 an oddball for your neighborhood in terms of size.