Cascade Appraisal, LLC has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Cascade Appraisal, LLC is always willing to address any inquiries you might have about appraisals or real estate in King County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
Describe what an appraiser does
What would cause me to request services from Cascade Appraisal, LLC?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What's in an appraisal report?
Once the appraisal has been delivered, what assurance is there that the final number is trustworthy?
What goes into an appraiser's certification?
Who do appraisers work for?
Where does Cascade Appraisal, LLC get the information used to estimate values in King County or other areas?
Why should I hire a licensed appraiser?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
What is "Market Value?"
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?



Describe an appraisal   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraisal report is an estimation allowing the appraiser to come to an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which assists the real estate appraiser conclude this opinion or estimate. The Cost Approach is one of the approaches that real estate appraisers use to find value; it involves finding what the improvements would cost without physical degradation, plus the land value. Another of the approaches is the Sales Comparison Approach - which involves discovering a comparison to other similar properties within a close vicinity which have recently sold. Generally speaking, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most accurate indicator of market value of a residential property. One of the least common approaches in appraising houses is the Income Approach, which is commonly used to figure the market value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the income produced by the property.

Describe what an appraiser does   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraiser generates a professional, unbiased assessment of market value, in the support of real estate exchanges. Appraisers demonstrate their expert findings in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to request services from Cascade Appraisal, LLC?   (Go to list of  questions)

There are a lot of reasons to purchase an appraisal from Cascade Appraisal, LLC with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for purchasing an appraisal include:
  • To get a loan.
  • If you would like to lower your property tax burden.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove PMI.
  • To fight inflated property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To give you an edge when purchasing real estate.
  • To determine a likely property value when putting your home on the market.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you are ever involved in a lawsuit.
Click here for a more detailed explanation of the process about getting an appraisal.


What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (Go to list of  questions)

The appraiser is not a home inspector and he or she does not do a complete home inspection. An inspection is a third-party investigation of the accessible structure and mechanical systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. For the most part, a home inspection report will explain the amenities and the requirements of the house: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical functions, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural capacity of the home such as the attic, accessible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and visible structures.

My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?   (Go to list of  questions)

Simply put, it's apples and oranges. The CMA relies on vague local market trends. An appraisal relies on comparable sales that can be verified by records. In addition, the appraisal checks other factors like condition, area and construction prices. A CMA delivers a "ball park figure." An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

But the most significant factor is who's doing the report. Real estate agents, who may not have a complete understanding of valuation methods or the entire market, write CMA's. The appraisal is produce by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Likewise, the agent has something at stake since they get a commission based on the property's selling price whereas the appraiser is bound by a code of ethics to collect only a previously agreed upon sum for assignments, regardless of their value conclusion.

What's in an appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

Each appraisal should reflect a supported value opinion and will clearly state the following:
  • The client and other intended users.
  • The intended use of the report.
  • The purpose of the appraisal.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the appraiser's opinions and conclusions.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Characteristics of the property that have a bearing on the value, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic factors, the real property interest valued, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, permanent equipment installations and even intangible items.
  • Any known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and the like.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • What was entailed in the activity of completing the assignment.
For a more in depth view of all that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the appraisal has been delivered, what assurance is there that the final number is trustworthy?   (Go to list of  questions)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must see to it that each of the items below are covered:
  • That the information analysis utilized in the appraisal was appropriate.

  • Whether individually or collectively, there were no crucial errors contained in the report, nor any relevant details left out.

  • That appraisal services were not rendered in a careless or negligent fashion.

  • That a believable, defensible appraisal report was imparted.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are extensive education requirements as well as on the jobexperience that must be logged - all with the objective of being able to provide unbiased value opinions. In addition, appraisers must obey a strict industry code of ethics and observe national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for working up an appraisal and documenting its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Go to list of  questions) Licensing and certification takes classroom study, tests and experience working under a supervisory appraiser. Once licensed, he or she must then engage in continuing education courses so that the license doesn't expire. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who do appraisers work for?   (Go to list of  questions)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's typical client, requiring their services to ensure a home involved in a mortgage transaction is enough to cover a loan balance in the case of default. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does Cascade Appraisal, LLC get the information used to estimate values in King County or other areas?   (Go to list of  questions)

One of the main activities of an appraiser is to compile property data. Data can be classified as either Specific or General. Specific data is taken from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.

General data is collected from a variety of sources. To look up recent sales to be used as "comps", we typically use the local Multiple Listing Service. Tax records and other public documents reveal actual sales prices in a market. Appraisers routinely need to report when a property lies in a flood zone, and that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood service.

And last but not least, the appraiser gathers general data from his or her past experience in creating appraisals for other properties in the same market.


Why should I hire a licensed appraiser?   (Go to list of  questions)

If you're involved in some sort of financial decision and the value of your home matters, you'll want an appraisal. If you're selling your home, an appraisal helps you set a price that maximizes profit and reduces time on the market. When buying, be sure you're not overpaying by getting an independent appraisal. For people settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Cascade Appraisal, LLC is the best documentation to ensure assets are split up fairly. Simply put, a home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Without knowing its real value, wise financial decisions are impossible.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Go to list of  questions)

PMI is an acronym for Private Mortgage Insurance. This added plan guards the lender in case a borrower defaults on the loan and the market price of the home is less than what the borrower still owes on the loan. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

The savings from getting rid of your PMI pays for the appraisal in a matter of months. Cascade Appraisal, LLC is a name you can trust when it comes to value trends in Bellevue and King County. Contact us today.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (Go to list of  questions)

We begin with an inspection of the property. During this process, the appraiser will come to your home and measure it, determine the layout of the rooms inside, confirm all aspects of the home's general condition, and take several photos of your house for inclusion in the report. Is there anything you can do to help? Yes there is! First, be sure the appraiser has easy access to the exterior of the house (gates aren't locked, etc). Trim any shrubs and move any items that would get in our way while we measure the structure. On the inside, make sure the appraiser can get to items like furnaces and water heaters.

You can make things go faster and improve the quality of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • Records on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years.
  • List of personal property to be sold with the home.
  • Home inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, your septic system and your well.
  • Locate copies of the current listing agreement, broker's data sheet and, in the event of a pending sale.
  • A list of "proposed" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

What is "Market Value?"   (Go to list of  questions)

In real estate appraising, Market Value (as opposed to Fair Market Value) is commonly defined as:

"The most probable price (in terms of money) which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably, and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby: the buyer and seller are typically motivated; both parties are well informed or well advised, and acting in what they consider their best interests; a reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market; payment is made in terms of cash in United States dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale."



Who has rights to the appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. Even though it's the buyer that eventually pays for the report, the lender is the intended user. The buyer is certainly entitled to a copy of the appraisal - it's usually bundled with all the other closing documents - but is not allowed to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these cases, the appraiser may state the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not noted otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


Which home renovations add the most to the price?   (Go to list of  questions)

The answer to this is different depending upon the location of the home. For example, putting in an inline humidifier could be nice in arid regions, but completely useless near the coast!

As a rule, the most value returned from renovating a home comes in the kitchen. According to one national survey, kitchen remodels returned an average of 88% of the investment. In other words, a $10,000 kitchen remodeling project would add approximately $8,800 to the value of the home. Bathrooms are right up there with kitchens, returning 85%. Adding bedrooms and baths can also boost the value of your home (when done well) as long as your home doesn't then become atypical for your neighborhood in terms of size.


profile picture