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Real Estate Appraisal FAQ With Greg Lane

This is the second segment of our interviews with Greg Lane, a local Tallahassee appraiser who running for the office of Leon County Property Appraiser. If you want to get caught up to this point, you can find the beginning of the interviews here.

My work has often intersected with his work for many years, so I can confidently tell you that he is a knowledgeable, first rate real estate appraiser. I think he is an excellent candidate for Leon County.

And Greg is also the perfect guest to answer frequently asked questions about the appraisal process in Florida.

Real Estate Appraisal FAQ

Greg Lane Leon County Property AppraiserMe: When I recommend you as an appraiser, can somebody buying or refinancing a home just call you to order their appraisal?

Greg: In most cases, the lender will have a rotation of appraisers, typically at least four but often as many as fifteen appraisers on the list. The appraisers are not selected by you or by the loan officer, rather through a rotating system to comply with regulations. The appraisal process is managed through either a portal system or through an appraisal management company (AMC). The best results are usually through the portal system, which charges the appraiser a fee of $10-25 for each order assigned. The AMC route often causes more delays and can be more costly to all parties as the AMC becomes a middleman and will typically take $50-$150 of the total fee. Fortunately, the trend in the industry is more lenders opting to work with the portal systems.

Me: OK, so when there is a lender involved, the consumer won't be able to ask for a specific appraiser. So how does one ensure that a competent appraiser has been assigned?

Greg: I recommend qualifying the appraiser, make sure they are geographically competent and that they know the local market. Ask the appraiser if they have had time to research sales or active listings in the area or if they have appraised any homes in the neighborhood recently. Ask the appraiser about local trends, such as average marketing time, ask if values increasing, decreasing or stabilizing. It is fine to ask about time frame, as in how long will the appraisal take to complete and be delivered. But don’t ask the appraiser for an estimate of value at the house, they would not know that until they get back to the office and spend several hours completing the assignment.

Me: That makes sense, prepare for the appraiser before she/he shows up at the house. How long will a good appraiser be there?

Greg: Obviously, some homes will require a longer inspection time due to the size of the home and the amount of property. The appraiser will measure the entire home and all detached buildings to determine the square footage of all buildings and to determine the exact gross living area of the home. He or she will take photos of all interior living areas, the exterior of the home and all amenities (pool, workshop, etc.). I personally interview the owner before or after my interior inspection. I ask questions about recent improvements, renovations, any current physical or mechanical issues, recent sales in the neighborhood I may not be aware of, etc. The entire process for a typical home can usually be performed in an hour. Most of our work is actually done at the office, the inspection of the home is only the field work component of a very lengthy process.

Me: You will be measuring "gross living area," what exactly is that?

Greg: Gross living area (GLA), as defined by ANSI standards, includes above grade finished areas of a home with ceiling height of at least 7’. Detached guest houses or an office in a garage, even if climate controlled, are not included in GLA per ANSI standards. Open areas of a second floor are not included in gross living area. A guest house, pool house, separate office or basement are obviously spaces that add contributory value, yet they are separated from the main living area and considered on a separate line in the report.

Me: Thanks Greg. This is some great stuff and it clarifies a lot about the real estate appraisal process.

We still have more questions for you, and readers are reminded to either drop me a note or comment below with questions they would like see answered by an authority in the real estate appraisal industry, and we'll follow-up with another post in the near future.

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