How to find an Appraiser...

jane__nyFebruary 24, 2012

when you don't know a soul in the area you are buying?

We are moving to Florida from NY and don't know anyone to ask. We found a house and our offer was accepted. We are paying cash and due to the market in Florida, would like to have the house appraised.

Realtor keeps saying she has a great appraiser and home inspector but all the advice I read here says to 'not' use someone from the Realtor.

I tried calling my bank, Chase, and they were no help at all. Said they farm it out to whoever the computer picks. Ridiculous!

Other than the Yellow Pages, any suggestions?


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The banks were mandated to no longer be able to personally choose an appraiser. They must remanin at "Arms Lenth". It is not rediculous. It ensures that there is no collusion between the two.
I would use the YP.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 7:21AM
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google the city or nearby larger city and also include in the searcch : Licensed Appraiser.
There is likely a national organization of appraisers of some sort where they list their members by city/state. Might also be state associations.

I found one via google in my area and they had a web site that explained their services and prices and length of time that it takes from order until the appraisal is delivered to you.

So you finally found someting in FL Congrats!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 8:16AM
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It's actually really hard to tell who is a good appraiser. It isn't like you can look at their work or anything.

I'd personally just google it rather than use the realtor's recommendation. The problem with appraisers generally isn't that they are incompetent. If you have access to sales data, it really isn't all that hard to pull comps. The bigger problems are usually the result of the appraiser having a financial interest in reaching a particular value. eg your realtor will steer more business to the appraiser if they consistently come back with the "right" price.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 10:22AM
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I recommend this site to my clients.

Here is a link that might be useful: Real Estate Appraiser Directory

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 2:30PM
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I had to get an appraisal a few years ago for a relocation sale to my employer. What I recommend is call a few (a lot?) of appraisers and find one that is familiar with your neighborhood. One who lives nearby is ideal. I didn't screen as well as I should have (lesson learned) and they used a couple comps that were just a couple blocks over but in an older, smaller-lot neighborhood that really weren't comparable. That dragged my valuation down. You need someone that will do more than look at pins on a map to pick comps. They need to make sure it's the same neighborhood or subdivision to get true comps.

Another thing you can do to steer them in the right direction is to provide them a list of sold comps that should be considered. Then they can do the math with them to adjust for your property.

And congrats on finally finding something you like!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 3:38PM
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Weedy, she doesnt need the house to come in at any value so providing the comps is silly in this situation. She is trying to make sure she is not over paying because she is paying cash and an appraisal is not required.

Jane, why dont you just ask your realtor to pull the comps? Its the same thing an appraiser is going to do.

If you are not comfortable with that, the yellow pages or google is the way to go.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 4:33PM
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If she has a good agent, she should have never gotten into a contract w/o the agent valuating the property. Did your agent not pull comps prior to you making an offer? You should be already fully confident on the value of the property.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 5:54PM
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Also, in FL many of the county appraisers have excellent website resources to help you get a rough idea. In Martin, for example, they have an interactive map where you can click on any property and see the sales history, tax bills going back many years as well as any non ad valorem special assessments, and the county assessments for both market value and taxable value. Of course, the market value for improvements is often a bit out of date if they haven't been inside in recent years, but it's certainly very helpful in getting ideas of average pricing within a neighborhood or development.

But I agree that it seems a bit late to be starting on this after you've made an offer.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 6:01PM
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>the county assessments

meant the county appraisal, sorry

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 6:03PM
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It's not too late for this if there is an Appraisal contingency in the contract. This is common even when paying cash. I'd go with the licensed appraiser. It's usually only $400 or so.

If you use comps from your agent, that won't stand up for the Appraisal Contingency if there is an price difference between appraised amt and contract amt. There are tons of appraisers to choose from in FL. It's quite simple.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 6:38PM
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My anecdote wasn't just intended to be for those seeking the highest possible appraisal. I meant it to demonstrate that for an accurate appraisal it's important to choose the right comps. Jane wouldn't want the house to over-appraise by picking higher-priced sales that weren't true comps due to being in a different neighborhood.

When I was crunching comps on the rental we're selling, NC rightly advised me to only keep those in the immediate neighborhood. It resulted in my dropping the price. It cuts both ways: keeps you from pricing (or offering) too high or too low.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 9:15PM
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Thanks everyone, lots of good suggestions. Linda, you are right except I have a Realtor who is very busy selling condos, I'm stuck trying to do everything myself.

Weedy, that is what I will do. I have no doubt whoever she recommends will price the house above what the comps show. I pulled my own comps., as my agent pulled from neighborhoods far from this house, where the homes were not comparable (extra bathroom, more sq ftg, updated kitchens). There was no reason to do this as so many homes have sold in the neighborhood I'm interested in. When questioned, she says 'a house is priced at what a buyer wants to pay.'

I have gotten myself in a situation I'm not sure how to handle. Can you switch agents after you submit an offer and the seller accepts? Maybe I should start another thread.

NC, I soooo wish you were here - except I'd probably drive you nuts!

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 1:07AM
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Even of you would drive me nuts, I certainly would have still performed a market valuation before you would have presented an offer. After all, when a property is overpriced by a large amount, or if the sellers are unrealistic with the negotiations , this is another round of ammunition that my clients can fire back at the sellers. It is hard for sellers to argue (rationally), if they are handed a fair market valuation.
Hopefully your contract has an appraisal contingency (most do). So you will be OK if you did overpay. It is just too bad that you will have to pay $400 first, to find out.
Good luck to you... I am glad to hear you finally found a nice property.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 6:31AM
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I would try to find a list of reputable appraisers in the community. You might also want to try the Better Business Bureau in addition to the lists previous posters have recommended. We had a crappy appraiser sent-out when we did our refi about 2 years ago. She didn't even see a bathroom and then also missed an entire bedroom which totally messed with the numbers! When I questioned our lender, I learned that they too just basically go through the Yellow Pages and weren't concerned as long as the numbers justified the refi which wasn't going to be a problem anyway because of the small mortage amount. I felt like we totally wasted $425.00 and it took a lot of time for the appraisal to be redone.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 2:50PM
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Do you have a bank in the new city?

They should be able to put you in touch with appraisers.

Since they are not giving you a mortgage no 'arms length' rules apply.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Thanks for all the advice. I finally got a name from someone my husband met. Very strange, not knowing anyone. Heaven knows if he's any good but at least he was recommended. My bank was useless. Gave me the number of a data center which farms out the appraisals and told me the computer picks them and couldn't help me.

This appraiser is from the area and we'll use her. Sounded nice and knew the neighborhood. She recommended a lawyer who I'll call tomorrow. Got an inspector who said he'd bring a termite inspector and an wind mitagator, roof person.

Signed the contract and keeping my fingers crossed. The house had this big deck which covered the entire yard. There was no yard! The owner said she put that in because it kept the house clean with little kids and dogs. We didn't like it and thought it a bit suspicious. I was thinking, drainage problems? Anyway, we asked her to remove it and she agreed at her cost. But only after closing. So I asked if money could be held in escrow to cover the removal. Agent added that to the contract.

Keeping fingers crossed,


    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 10:58PM
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AGAIN, due to government regulations recently passed, banks no longer are able to choose or refer appraisers. Your blame is misplaced.
And what in the world is a wind mitigator?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 6:09AM
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I think Jane means a wind mitigation inspector--someone who determines whether or not you qualify for a discount on your insurance based on things like shutters, impact windows, etc. FL used to offer free wind inspections and had a program of rebates/assistance if you needed to upgrade your wind protection, but that ended a couple of years ago.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:02AM
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"AGAIN, due to government regulations recently passed, banks no longer are able to choose or refer appraisers."

For loans they are making, not as a general prohibition.

The bank still knows how to get in touch with appraisers.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 4:46PM
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"I think Jane means a wind mitigation inspector--someone who determines whether or not you qualify for a discount on your insurance based on things like shutters, impact windows, etc. FL used to offer free wind inspections and had a program of rebates/assistance if you needed to upgrade your wind protection, but that ended a couple of years ago."
Thanks WritersBlock... I learned something new today. Actually almost everyday!

Brickeyee... yeah that is probably true, but they are running scared...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:10PM
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Did you end up with waterfront property? That was your intent, correct?

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 8:53AM
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Thanks, all. Writersblock is correct. Florida charges high house insurance and if you have the roof tested, you get a discount.

Sweettea, we got waterfront on a fresh-water lake. Not what we wanted at all. I'm terrified of alligators, but these lakes are all over Florida. I think they are part of water conservation.

We let the house with the deck go. We were advised, by our lawyer that to buy a house without a permit for a large deck was trouble. Setbacks, easements, etc. We asked the sellers to give an allowance for removal,which we would do, and they refused. So we decided to offer on another house and it was accepted.

It was above our price point and I'm worried, but we'll survive. Real Estate prices are all over the place around here. I'm planning to have the house appraised privately. I believe it to be over-priced.

This whole experience has taken such a toll on us. We never found a house we liked or felt comfortable being in. We literally threw in the towel. We need to get settled. We'll make it home.


    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 10:17PM
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Shame on your lawyer to scare you out of a home that you finally found, only because it has a deck. What a buch of baloney Jane. A simple survey, which you should perform anyhow, will reveal any problems. And you already said the seller was willing to give you money to tear it out, so I don't get what the big problem was. It's only a deck.
You have said twice now that you rhink you overpaid. Why do you keep offering an amount that you think is above the market value? I can not remember, are you using an agent for this one? You sound totally confused.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 5:55AM
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>We were advised, by our lawyer that to buy a house without a permit for a large deck was trouble. Setbacks, easements, etc.

I'm a little confused by this, too. Okay, so there was possibly, maybe probably, unpermitted work, but all the county would have done would be to make you remove it, and you wanted to do that anyway?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 8:24AM
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This house saga is getting crazier. We decided to rescind the offer on the house on the lake and decided to buy the house with the deck.

I apologize for being vague. NC, we plan to do a survey but it is obvious this deck is up to the property line. There is a privacy fence surrounding the property and the deck runs up to this fence. The County requires a permit for decks with footings. The owners did not get a permit and is now refusing to remove the deck or allowing us any money to remove it. We had a handyman come out today, he said he could tear it out for $1,400. We decided to sign the contract - again. We were not going to go through with it when the sellers refused to do anything about the deck. We thought about it again, and decided to go ahead and buy the house. We'll deal with the deck.

Writersblock, our lawyer said the Country requires a permit to remove a deck and since the deck was never permitted, we couldn't get a permit to remove it. But being Florida, no one seems worried about permits and this handyman assured us he'd tear it out without any consequences.

We are working with an agent. She doesn't direct us in any way. She did provide the handyman and stated that we were making too much out of nothing.

I'm not positive about the price, which is why we are getting an appraiser. They came down $34,900 below list. Comps show similar houses selling about $10-15,000 below the accepted price. They did put in a new roof 9 years ago and we are factoring that in their price. The agent states the house will appraise. She has never provided relevant comps. We've given up expecting her to provide information and will go ahead with the deal. We are spending quite a bit to hire 'experts' to guide us. Appraiser, inspector, survey, termite inspector and a roofer and plumber.

It sounds like overkill, but I'm suspicious about a few things - including this deck, so feel we should do it. The contract is 'as is' but we can walk away if we find anything we don't want to fix. The sellers have made it clear, they will not fix anything.

Dispite all this, its a cute house in a desirable neighborhood. Near the Gulf and I think it will hold its value...hopefully.

Here's the link. You can see the decking behind the pool. It covers the entire yard.


Here is a link that might be useful: Florida house

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 12:24AM
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beachlily z9a

Jane, what is it that you don't like FL homes? Too contemporary? Too open?

My home is the same size as the one you are trying to purchase. Mine is a rather modest place, but it is contemporary. Most are in FL, except those that have been custom built by "people from up north".

A FL house will dress any way you want them to. The one you have linked to is pretty! It looks to be in good shape, but pictures do lie on occasion.

Good luck with your offer! Hope the house survives the inspections.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 4:18PM
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Looks like a nice house. Not cookie cutter, and not Brady Bunch - like. A lot of homes in Fl. remind me of the Brady Buch's house. Remember Jane, the inspector will probably find quite a few things wrong. But remember that all houses are like this.
The time to buy something unique is when it presents itself.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 8:39PM
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Thanks, but I really had a hard time finding a house. Yes, NC it isn't cookie-cutter on the outside. The inside is a standard type, Florida layout which I don't like. I gave up trying to find a layout which makes sense here. Doesn't exist here except in the older ranch type homes.

Beachlily, the problem I have with the layouts are numerous. We lived almost 40 yrs in a large contemporary and it is what we are most comfortable with. However, what is considered contemporary in Florida is not like any I've seen before.

I don't like the fact that you enter the house into the living-room. There are no entries. Open the door and you are standing in the living-room. Very disturbing to me, I dislike that the most and could not find a house with an entry foyer. This house is the same way. I've been spending so much time trying to figure a way to make an entry. Not possible without construction and it wouldn't look right. If you look at the photo of the living-room, that is exactly what you see at the front door. No privacy.

In Florida they call this an open floor isn't. There are half walls, angled walls, soffits, bedrooms off the living-rooms, kitchen. The door to a bedroom is in the living-room, no hallway!

This house does have a hallway to the bedrooms which are tiny.

We will make the best of it. Inspections scheduled for Monday. I do expect some things, but won't let it stop the sale unless its major. I don't anticipate any.

Thanks for the heads-up,

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 2:06AM
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Jane, you need to consider the reason for things. Up north, yes, you want an entry to keep the cold wind out of your living room. No need for that in FL. No need for a place to put the coats, except a couple of days of the year. An entry would be just wasted space here.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 5:44AM
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I think you are smart to worry about unpermitted work. Be sure to pull the public records and make sure it matches any work that's ever been done on the house. This is an insurance issue, because your insurance company will probably not cover anything that wasn't permitted.
It does not sound like a new roof - just new shingles. Hopefully they put in the wind mitigation straps when they put the new shingles on, but your roof inspector should be able to tell you. It will be important whatever the roof guy says about how much life it left in the roof structure.
Another crappy insurance issue is sinkhole. I don't know if Manatee falls under the new sinkhole rules, but you need to check with your new insurance company to see if they require a sinkhole inspection. They are now required in Pinellas, where we've not had any problems that I know of (most sinkholes are in Polk and Citrus, far to the north). Sinkhole mitigation is the new nightmare now that most of the Chinese drywall has been fettered out - and don't forget that if any work was done in at 2005-2007 timeframe, then you need to be slightly concerned about that, too.
Be sure to get the pool inspected. Leaks are a huge nightmare and I'm not really sure what they do to check for those, except they might pressure check the plumbing. If the pool has an autofiller, it can hide a problem like that. Also, if you will have any toddlers (grandkids?) around your house, please install the pool alarms that have undoubtedly been removed. We just had another tragedy just two days ago in the local area with a 9-mo old baby.
I'm sorry that I can't help more, but I'm just not smart on Manatee county. If you will consider homes across the Skyway, I'd be happy to help! Waterfront is my specialty! You know, my DH commutes to Sarasota and it's a super-easy drive because we live just minutes from the Skyway...lots of salt water here!
Sorry that your agent is too busy for you - that bums me out to hear that. At least you are smart on all this stuff or you wouldn't be on this forum. Keep asking questions, doubt everything until you're satisfied. If I think of anything else, I'll post again.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:54AM
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Jane, I agree with you about needing an entry as a transitional space between the front porch and the living room. I also would have passed on the home with the unpermitted deck. Just too big of a can of worms.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:50AM
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I live in CA, don't need an entry for the weather, but I also like an entry. Can you enclose or redesign your front porch to make an entry? Maybe it is too much money, but I also like an entry.
I also like a nice transition, yes it is wasted space but it makes me like the entry which I think is very important, it creates the mood of the house.
I'd buy the place, I'm not saying don't buy it, you can make it work. Just paint some of that blue, that part is easy. ...and I like blue, but that the house is overloaded with blue. :)
You can make it a very nice house, best of all the search if over, just make it home and enjoy it.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 12:24PM
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c9pilot-"Another crappy insurance issue is sinkhole. I don't know if Manatee falls under the new sinkhole rules, but you need to check with your new insurance company to see if they require a sinkhole inspection.

I would also make sure my insurance company has a solid (A) rating.

Links that might be useful:

Florida Journalist Wins Pulitzer for Property Insurance Report

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 1:46PM
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C9, we are in Sarasota County. I believe Manatee is further North. You are on the other side of Skyway? We looked at houses in Safety Harbor and really liked the area and the houses. Totally different from Sarasota which is more like vacation homes. But decided against Safety Harbor because of distance and the bridge (scary)!

We were wondering about the roof. The listing says 'reroof.'
Is that a new roof? We'll find out with the inspector.

CMarlin, the first thing to go is the paint and all the garage/tag sale stuff all over. The house is so blue outside, it shouts Blue from down the street. Inside there is a black bedroom - BLACK!

I don't feel an entry is just for colder climates. It brings you into a house without being directly inside. A living-room should not be at the front door. Feels like walking into a motel room.

I've only heard bad things about house insurance in Florida. Apparently, it is farmed out to really don't have a choice. There is talk about overseas investors buying insurance policies. Not good.

I did ask about sinkholes and was told they don't occur in this part of Florida.

The inspector did say he inspects the pool for an additional charge which we agreed to. I have no idea how it is done, but will ask.

Thanks all,

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:11PM
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If it was reshingled 9 years ago, it might be due again in a couple years. Asphalt shingle roofs don't last long in FL due to the sun and heat...even if they are sold as 25 year shingles.

Not to worry about sinkholes in Sarasota county.

You picked a very good location for Sarasota. Property will hold its value well in that location.

I don't think newer homes up north have entry foyers any more either, do they? Those are more popular in older homes (50 years or older) in the north, right?

Besides, most folks with attached garages leave/enter the home via the garage. You really only use your front door for guests or if you are checking the mailbox or getting the newspaper.

Sounds like you are not that fond of FL and all the ways it is different than your state. I hope you adjust or else you will fall in that 50% statistic of folks that move back to their original state in the first 5 years. that can be stressful.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:35PM
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Hi Jane-
Yes, Sarasota County, sorry! For some reason I was thinking you were buying in Palmetto but now I remember you were trying to be near Siesta Key, which is a beautiful area.
I re-read the listing and it says "re-shingled" not re-roofed, but your inspector today will be able to give you the info you need.
Whether sinkholes happen or not in your county is not relevant, it's whether or not the insurance companies think they happen. It's nuts. If there's ever been a sinkhole in Lakewood Ranch, then you could be stuck with sinkhole mitigation. You should be talking to insurance companies and they'll know if it's required. We are lucky to have USAA although they severely restricted their new FL policies soon after we bought.
I think it's odd that you looked way up in Safety're right, it's way off the beaten path. Pinellas driving gets more and more difficult as you go north and and west, further from 275 as it curves to the east.
Anyway, I'm mostly sad for you that you were not able to find a house you liked very much and then paid more than you wanted, too. But at least you have an amazingly BLUE vanity!!! ;)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:04AM
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