A Difference Between Appraisal, Assessment, Home Inspection

A Difference Between Appraisal, Assessment, Home InspectionEvery one should have a home inspection before purchasing any property, including new construction. You may think that’s ridiculous but there are too many cases that prove otherwise. It is only a couple of hundred dollars and can save you thousands. Most importantly it makes you feel confident about the house.

Remember the horror stories you saw on the local and national news about all the new construction problems? One is leaks which leads to the dreaded word mold, a whole problem in itself. The stories go on and on. Recently a buider filled a dump and built houses on it. Needless to say, when things settle underground, they do above it. The houses were collapsing and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) found barrels of some kind of petroleum substance.

He most important thing is that you carefully select your home inspector and be there at the time he/she makes the examinination. You may not know what is supposed to happen but they should go over the property with a fine tooth comb. Every wall, shingle, window, receptacle…..is looked at and tested. The good ones go in the crawl space, attic and on the roof. When you get the report don’t be alarmed. Some things are to be expected, such as outdated electrical systems in older houses and minor settlement.

An assessment is done by a city or county inspector to determine tax bases. Many times they are licensed or certified appraisers but they don’t have to be and often are not. They don’t do an appraisal. They go by public records, quite often wrong data. Some do have pictures and some have sketches. I put a woodstove in my house a few years ago. I went down and paid for a permit and to this day it is not on record. This is also true with additions which of course add square footage as well as value. I read the other night that approximately thirty percent of property is over assessed, therefore overly taxed.

If you have good reason to think your property is in that category, you should contact your assessor and ask for an appeal. But, understand appreciation has seen an all time high in recent years and may very well be the reason for your estimated value.

See my other article on understanding an appraisal for more detail. An appraiser does a very detailed extensive research on the area, neighborhood and specific property. Upon arrival pictures are taken. Notes are taken about curbs, gutters, sidewalks, street, landscaping…Then the house, deck, garage, porch and so on are measured, the square footage is calculated. Then every single item is noted inside the property. The appraiser goes to at least three similar properties (comparables) that were recently sold, ideally in the same neighborhood. Pictures and notes are taken. After returning to the office a sketch is drawn, pictures are produced and the work begins assembling all data and comparisons before arriving at an estimate of value.

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