By Sally Duros
Chicago Sun-Times Real Estate Editor
Aug. 30, 2006 â€” Appraisers say that pointing fingers isn’t necessarily useful in a
transaction as complicated as a real estate purchase.
“What we are trying to do is measure human nature,” said John
Bredemeyer, a senior residential appraiser based in Omaha, Neb.,
who is a spokesman for the Appraisal Institute, and president of
Real Corp. Inc., a full-service appraisal company in Omaha. “An
appraisal is trying to measure what really affects value in the
eyes of the buyer.”
To get a picture of what that value is, the appraiser looks at
factors that he or she believes will affect the value of the
“We assign a dollar figure to those factors,” Bredemeyer said. The
appraiser then assesses the property’s assets against the standards
of the neighborhood by comparing it against at least two
It’s important to understand the difference between a home
appraisal and a home inspection. A home inspection is conducted
onsite on the behalf of the buyer and sometimes the seller to
identify any problems with the physical property.
Appraisers are not required to visit the property, and some of them
“We describe it as scope of work,” Bredemeyer said. “The ideal is
to do a thorough inspection of the property.” But in some cases the
appraiser might simply drive by the property, or use a source that
he or she believes to be reliable.
“If you don’t go to the property, the reliability of your opinion
could be called into question,” Bredemeyer said.
Whatever the case, the appraiser has to fully disclose to the
client — whether buyer, lender or seller — what was done or not
From the seller’s perspective, the American Homeowners Foundation
recommends that if you are preparing to sell your house, condo or
town house, consider only the most recent comparable home sales in
Sales older than three or four months are based on market prices
from several months earlier, and they might have been substantially
higher than today’s market prices.
“We are in a dynamic market,” said Bredemeye.
“Real estate is driven by supply and demand,” Bredemeyer said, “and
it’s a buyer’s market right now.”
– Quality of construction
– Bedroom and bath size
– Number of bedrooms, baths
– Basement or not
– Number of garages
– Number of fireplaces
– What kind of fence
– Heating system
– Air conditioning
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