FAQ’s

We’ve created a repository of information detailing topics important for people new to the appraisal industry! We’ve focused on general questions, considerations for renovating and updating, appraiser lingo, and many other topics. Please contact us if you still have more questions!

General


The Association of Georgia Real Estate Appraisers (AGREA) was started to address the needs and issues of the appraiser community here in the state of Georgia. We was act to promote respect and profitability,and build professional networking opportunities for Georgia Real Estate Appraisers.
As a member YOU are AGREA, YOUR actions are AGREA, YOUR inactions are AGREA, what YOU do or don’t do will make all the difference. GET INVOLVED! Advocate for your own livelihood.
No, the cost and time involved in incorporating and properly maintaining the organization as nonprofit requirements would affect the productivity of the organization.
The board is under development. Also, there are committees being formed that are dedicated to making the organization run smoothly. Interested in making a difference? Join a committee.
No, most of the administrative management of AGREA is done in Atlanta however we are looking for appraisers in rural areas to host networking events to further dialogue about today’s issues. AGREA can be as large, as wide spread and as much of a voice in the financial market as YOU make it.
AGREA is located at 3355 Lenox Road NE Suite 750 Atlanta, GA 30326. Please look at the contact us page for more information.
We need to stand up as a group and tell AMC’s and lenders what our minimum fees are. AMC will continue”scope stuffing” (the act of adding additional requirements without additional payments such as the MC form, additional comps, 216, additional listings, pending sales ect.) and becoming more and more of a portion of the appraisal fee while lenders will continue not minding that the appraisers are not getting a fair cut being that at the end of the day the report get done.
No, we do hope to work with other organizations when pushing for national changes in the future, however we are focused on Georgia real estate appraiser issues and getting a voice in what happens here in Georgia.

Membership


Those who are interested in being proactive about the future of their career, those who realize that it takes more than just complaining about what’s wrong, those who are tired of appraisal fees going down while requirements and time required to complete a report goes up. Discussions are great for entertainment but action gets the job DONE!
Call or email AGREA. Ask what can I do, how can I be a part of the organization, and not just listed as a member. You’re a member! Let your voice be heard. 
Those who have 2-4 hours per month to dedicate to making major changes in the industry and want to meet key persons that effect our industry.
Send an email describing the position you are interested in to membership@agrea.org.
AGREA will schedule with the venue and notify members in the area. Simply attending the event, greet the members as they arrive, introduce yourself, provide them with an AGREA name tag and introduce them tothe rest of the attendees. Estimated time requirement would be 3 hours per month. This will help you to meet an appraisers in your local area.
Assist the chairperson in researching issues that affect AGREA members. Estimated time requirement would be 3 hours per month.
Meet once a month to discuss upcoming events, membership needed, member relations, educational events,HVCC changes, and appraiser related bills and laws. A chairperson must bring ideas large or small that can help bring about change for Georgia appraisers. Estimated time requirement would be 4 hours per month.

Events


Networking and having open dialogue with your fellow appraisers will encourage appraisers to stop looking at each other as competition! Knowing your fellow appraisers are fed up with low fees and scope stuffing will prompt a different response when AMC’s propose low fees.
This is an opportunity to come out and enjoy a day in the park with other appraisers and their families, enjoy field events, light snacks and beverages. It’s the weekend- time to relax! Family Days are also “pet friendly” events.
Simply an opportunity to come out after work, and meet other appraisers in your area in an informal environment.
Its an opportunity for appraiser to discuss their successes, frustrations and issues that effect their business and other appraisers who may have gone through similar issues to address or learn from. The 20 person limit is needed to keep all participants involved, focused and undistracted by side conversations.
AGREA is big on community service. Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides Comprehensive Nutrition Care™ for a diverse population of men, women and children with unique nutrition needs. Duties include preparing or delivering meals for less the fortunate, its extremely humbling to be able to give just a few hours for a good cause.
Yes, Please suggest a location and note if you are willing to host in Contact Us form. Events are based on the interest of AGREA members.

Advertising Space


Anyone, preferred advertisers would provide services or products directed toward helping appraisers in their business.
Fill out the form located on the Contact Us tab.

Permits 


Permits ensure renovations, add-ons, and updates are done to the minimum of current building standards and that it was completed correctly. Before the appraisal be sure to provide updated copies of the permits to the appraiser to reduce any confusion and to also give an accurate assessment of the property.
If considering working without permits, consider the long term implications. Appraisers, loans, and selling the property will all be delayed and many issues can be encountered. It is recommended to get permits before working otherwise there is a high possibility of harming your property’s marketability.
If this results in problems with the appraisal report, it is highly advisable to attempt to locate the missing permits yourself. Sometimes, permits can be misplaced and in order to achieve the top dollar for your property, these are necessary.
If part of your property isn’t permitted, try to have up to date records including: when it was added, who built it, estimates for how much it would cost to permit the space, and if selling, how potential buyers have reacted. This information provides a well- rounded view and can help the appraiser make his/ her accurate assessment.
Even if permitted, some add-ons and conversions are not highly marketable and may not add more value to the property. Take for instance, a garage conversion to living space could provide 400 more square feet, but eliminating a garage is often a negative for value. Move livable space does not always equal a higher comparable so take these into consideration during your appraisal, renovation, and home-selling process.

Comparable Properties


Appraisers often look at homes in your neighborhood that are similar in size and age. They are selected through various searches including local MLS reports and public records. Ask to know which comparables the appraiser has used and if you find significant discrepancies, work with your agent to find more accurate comparables.
Before beginning with an appraiser, check the high and low sale prices in your neighborhood. Check listing websites like the National Association of Realtors to see the average and median prices in your area. This will provide an estimate for where your property currently sits, as well as any ideas for improvements that could increase your appraisal value. 
While looking at comparables, appraisers sometimes do not know information relevant to the comparables sale. For example, a neighbor with a similar home may have had to move quickly dropping the home price considerably. If there are instances similar to this, let the appraiser know in order to get a better and more accurate value for your property. 
When getting an appraisal, the comparable homes and neighborhood are considered. If there is a large amount of foreclosures, this will be taken into account of your appraisal. To combat this as best as possible, it’s best to maintain updates and structure to bring the most value to your home possible. Conversely, appraisers consider the school district, shopping, access to public transportation, and parks in the area. These are considered desirable and can increase a homes value. Point these out to ensure your appraiser is aware! 

Property Updates


Remember, an appraisal is an accurate estimate of both the exterior and interior of your property. Consider maintaining your landscaping, trimming shrubs, and removing dead plants and trees. Similarly, look at the exterior of your home and consider ways to update or maintain it’s paint, shutters, etc. 
Focus your updates. Don’t spend a lot of time and money on things that won’t yield a strong return for your money. The best options for this are updating paints, carpets, lighting and plumbing fixtures. If you have upgraded and maintained these consistently, you should be fine, but if there’s the one bathroom that looks like you stepped back in time, consider some simple updates. 
A simple update is your property’s fixtures. Small changes like switches, faucets, light fixtures, etc can make a large difference. Fixtures are inexpensive and can help add to the appraisal value. 
Internal workings (HVAC, plumbing, electrical systems) are taken into consideration in an appraisal. Keep records of updates to these systems to show your appraiser to achieve the maximum appraisal value. If these are slightly dated but in general working order, you shouldn’t encounter negative appraisal results, however if they are in disrepair, this could have a negative impact on your appraisal report. 
When having an appraisal or attempting to sell your home, consider removing large bulky furniture. This large furniture can really make the room feel and look small, even in an over sized room. To maximize on your space, put this in storage and show the appraiser just how big your home is! Simply removing the large hutch gave the room the feeling of more space! 
One great thing to do before an appraisal is to make a list of updates on your home. This provides a simple and up to date way for the appraiser to have accurate information, especially since some things may be hard to visually date. 
While staging during selling a home is sometimes important and even necessary, there is no need to do this for the appraiser. Keep in mind that while trying to sell the home, you want to make the potential buyers have an emotional response with the home. This is not true of an appraiser. 
It’s unnecessary to change features that are common for the home’s age and area. Take for instance a Victorian home with 1 bathroom. This is standard for that time and similarly the ageing neighborhood it sits in. However, a 1 bathroom suburban home would be considered outdated. There’s no need to completely renovate unless you are already in the market to. 
Appraisers will look for signs of moisture, water leaks, and mold and mildew. If there is a basement or a leaky roof make sure to get these problems fixed before the appraisal in order to get the maximum appraisal value.
 An important note for an appraisal is personal property. While you don’t plan on moving your hot tub to your next home, the appraiser won’t consider it as part of this property unless it is permanently affixed. Consider decking an above ground pool, providing a permanent foundation to a shed or outdoor structure, and removing potted plants.

Remodeling


If considering a large renovation in the $15,000 to $20,000 to increase your appraisal value, consult with a professional first. If a home has depreciated due to market values, you might break even by doing this renovation, but you also might not.
The best renovations to affect the home value is to begin with the kitchen and bath. These are also the most important to be updated when trying to sell the home. Next, wood floors, landscaping and enclosed garages also drive up the appraisal value. 
Adding a bedroom can drastically increase the home value, so consider ways your home could add another bedroom. To be considered a bedroom, a room needs an entry-way, window, and closet. Consider unused space in your home that you could add more bedrooms. Simple ways including splitting large bedrooms into 2, re-purposing an office, or even eliminated vaulted ceilings. The images below show a before and after of a home that reduced it’s vaulted ceilings and was able to add two bedrooms, drastically increasing the home’s appraisal value.
It’s important to know about your home’s bedrooms. A lot of home owners will have a very large closet or “bonus” room that they have used as a bedroom. If there is not an entryway,window, and closet this room cannot be considered a bedroom. Check with your local zoning to see if there are ways to add low cost fixes to your home if you are in this situation. 
When adding more space to your home, it’s better to think above ground than below. While many people love their finished basement, but this area does not get added to the overall square footage, where as a finished attic would in turn adding more to the home value. 
Before renovating, it’s important to consider the return on investment of your remodel.

  1. Office- On average, an home office renovation will cost almost $30,000.00 and the return is as small as 45%. If considering anyways, consider something that could easily be turned back into a bedroom, or when selling label it a den to avoid reminders of…work!
  2. The overdone Master Suite– While a nice updated master suite can entice buyers, make sure to not go overboard–turns out a lot of potential buyers don’t want a hefty price tag associated with the bulky luxury.
  3. The Sunroom– The sunroom or any add ons, must feel the same as the rest of the home and have its own heat source to increase the square footage of the property. With that being said, the average sunroom addition is around $75,000 and you might get a return of 48%.
  4. A bathroom addition– Adding square feet for a bathroom is the same as a sunroom! Additions are expensive! A mid level bathroom addition will easily cost upwards of $30,000.00 with a 53% return on investment. The best bet to add an additional bathroom is to reconfigure your current floor plan!
  5. A standalone garage– An independent structure can cost over $90,000.00 and will only return 54% of the investment. While buyers want a garage, if the home has one, convert it back to a garage, or simply clean it out! 
When updating your home, consider updating in terms of energy efficiency. Replacing current windows with insulated energy efficient ones will increase the home’s curb appeal and value. Adding insulation will also be viewed as a value add. It will reduce the heating and cooling costs and update the home. When with the appraiser, make sure to point out the energy efficiency updates. Things such as controls on water heaters, low flow shower heads, and energy star appliances will also add to the home value.

Business Notes


A good standard before an appraisal is to look at the Uniform Residential Appraiser Report (URAR) from Fannie Mae and Freddic Mac. This report provides an overview of what appraisers look for while preparing report. Going outside this outline for repairs and updates probably won’t be beneficial. 
When working with an appraiser, the appraiser must report all offers, listings, rentals, and sales in the past year. If the house is under contract the appraiser must have a copy with any addenda to the contract. This information is necessary for the appraisal report if a loan necessary.
Always keep in mind the $500 rule when working with appraisers. Homes tend to be appraised in $500 increments meaning slight damage can reduce the value of your home by a much larger impact. This reiterates that it’s important to work on the small dings and updates before the appraisal date.
Effective age is also important to keep in mind when working with an appraiser. Effective age is the appraisers estimate of the physical condition of the property. The effective age can be shorter or longer than the age of the building.

Take for example a building that is 35 years old. With some simple updates and paint, the effective age is 15 years! Likewise, updating could make the effective age appear older even than the 35 years!

During the appraisal, it’s important to not hover over the appraiser. Similarly, you want him/her to be as comfortable as possible. Consider crating pets and consider the temperature. If it’s hot out, and the air isn’t on inside, the appraiser might think there is an issue with the heating and air.

Once option is to have your agent walk through with the appraiser. He/She can point out updates, have comparables in mind, and discuss the differences in this home versus the neighborhood. 

Keep in mind last minute things that can have a negative impact on an appraisal. Such things include pet toys, litter boxes, ashtrays, and un-crated pets. The removal of these things will indicate to the appraiser that there are no potential odor issues and could possibly have an impact on the value.