Why Hiring a Local Birmingham Home Appraiser is Critical

A local Birmingham home appraiser can prevent problems

Have you ever had an appraisal on your Birmingham area home for a refinance or purchase only to find out the appraiser was not local? An appraiser who is not local can create problems that may result in a negative appraisal.

Today we’re going to discuss five reasons that you should choose a local Birmingham home appraiser, or if you are going through a bank, make sure they choose a local professional.

Birmingham Home Appraiser5 Reasons to choose a local Birmingham home appraiser

1) A local Birmingham home appraiser knows the market- It is very important for an appraiser to have knowledge and experience in the areas that they work, which is known as geographic competency because real estate markets are location specific. For example, there are areas in the Birmingham metro area that have unique characteristics that make it necessary to choose sales comparables from directly within the immediate area.

In some areas school systems are big determining factors that drive prices, however in this area just because a sale is in the same school system, does not mean it should be used as a comparable. A local Birmingham home appraiser will know the sub-markets and they will be able to determine whether the sales are from a “competitive market area” which is key in producing a credible appraisal.

2) A local Birmingham home appraiser knows local costs- One of the three approaches to value is the cost approach. This approach provides an indication of the value that takes into consideration local building costs and the current value of the land that the house is built on.

Knowing local building costs is essential to produce an accurate indication from this important approach to value. Most appraisers utilize a national cost service such as the Marshall & Swift Residential Cost Handbook. Even though services like this produce a reliable cost estimate there are times when it is better to obtain estimates from a local source because they are more accurate.

There are some areas of Birmingham that Marshall & Swift does not provide a good estimate. These are typically areas that have increased demand and are in the higher price range. For these types of properties getting an estimate that reflects the cost of local builders is key to an accurate cost approach to value.

3) A local Birmingham home appraiser knows the nuances of each neighborhood- If you don’t hire a local Birmingham home appraiser you take the risk of getting an appraisal that does not take into consideration specific characteristics of the neighborhood your home is in. Some neighborhoods are so unique that it is best to only use sales from within that neighborhood.

One neighborhood that I can think of within the Birmingham market is that of the Hollywood area of Homewood, AL. From an appraisal perspective, the best sales to use within this area are other Hollywood home sales. There are other areas of Homewood that are in the same school system and close by but they would probably not reflect an accurate value.

4) A local Birmingham home appraiser has access to better data sources- Appraisers must have access to the most accurate sources of property data in the areas that they appraise in. If you are a Birmingham home appraiser it is very important that you have access to a local source of data provided by the Appraiser Group Data Association, or AGDA.

The AGDA group consists of real estate appraisers in the Birmingham metro area that collects physical data on homes they appraise and shares it with one another.  Information such as gross living area (including basement area if present), house features, land size, property amenities, and financing terms are included.

This is very important if you are a lender or someone else who hires appraisers in the Birmingham area because it is the most accurate and reliable source of physical data for comparable sales. The only other source of information for appraisers to use, if they are not a member of AGDA., is the county records, however, the square footage information provided by the county is hit or miss on most properties.

5) A local Birmingham home appraiser is more accurate than an online service like Zillow- One option that some homeowners take is to use an online service like Zillow to find out the value of their home. There are numerous reasons not to do this but the ones I wanted to focus on here are what set a local appraiser apart from the online services. If you want to find out how accurate Zillow is in your area click here, or view the video below.

If you hire a local appraiser they will walk through your house to look at the quality and condition of your home. Knowing this information helps to provide a more accurate value estimate compared to online services that give you an estimate that ranges in value from $50,000-$100,000. Does that really tell you anything?

A local Birmingham home appraiser will actually measure your home to get accurate square footage. If you are unsure of whether this is important or not consider what would happen if the area were off by 100 square feet and the value per square foot was $100.

This would result in the value of your home being off by $10,000. This can make the difference between your home selling quickly or sitting on the market for a long period of time. You can check out my previous article on 5 Things Zillow Won’t Do To Get Your Zestimate to find out why online services are not reliable.

Do you have any more doubt that hiring a local Birmingham home appraiser is your best bet for getting the most accurate value estimate for your home? If you have any questions feel free to contact me and as always thanks for reading.

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  1. Keep it local Tom 🙂

  2. You are one of the good guys Tom. I hope many locals hire you.

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