Who are the top real estate appraisers in Birmingham, AL?

Are you looking for the top real estate appraisers in Birmingham, AL?

What qualities do the top appraisers possessIf you’re looking for the top real estate appraisers in Birmingham, AL to help you with your home valuation needs you’ve come to the right place. While I won’t give you a list of the top real estate appraisers names I will give you the criteria you should be looking for in an appraiser.

I highly recommend that you interview your appraiser before you hire them. Most real estate appraisers are able to offer you appraisals for various types of reasons including: pre listing appraisals, divorce litigation appraisals, pre purchase appraisals, estate planning appraisals, private mortgage insurance (PMI) removal appraisals, and insurance valuation appraisals. So what are the criteria for hiring an appraiser? Let’s take a look.

Characteristics to look for in a real estate appraiser

Experience- When you’re looking to hire the best appraiser you want to find out how much experience they have. There’s actually a couple of ways to look at experience, including the time they’ve been appraising as well as how many appraisals they’ve done in the area the house is in.

The second type of experience is called geographic competence, which I will address below. The type of experience I’m discussing here has to do with how long they’ve been appraising. Everyone has to start somewhere so I’m not dissing new appraisers, but when we’re talking about the biggest asset you probably own you need someone who has been doing this for a while. You should find out how long they’ve been appraising to determine their experience level.

Education- The best appraisers are those that stay on top of what’s going on in their profession by attending continuing education classes. Appraisal regulations change quite often and appraisers need to know what these changes are so that their appraisal reports meet these guidelines.

In addition to staying on top of regulations, attending classes regularly will help the appraiser be aware of the most current methods to use in their appraisal assignments. One of the newest topics of discussion in current education is that of statistical analysis of sales data to help the appraiser arrive at a more accurate opinion of value. Make sure you hire an appraiser who values staying on top of the latest educational offerings.

Credentials- Looking at the appraisal profession as a whole, it is a proven fact that appraisers who belong to a professional organization are typically better educated and provide a better product than those who are not. I myself hold the SRA designation from the Appraisal Institute, however there are other fine organization that appraisers can join.

Most of these groups have higher continuing education requirements than the minimum required with state certification. In addition, the quality of the educational offerings and teachers are usually pretty high.

Data sources- Appraisers are only as good as the data they use. One of the biggest jokes among appraisers, and real estate agents as well, is how inaccurate county records are. If your appraiser is only using county records to verify the square footage of comparable sales then they’re not doing the best job they can.

The Birmingham, AL area is one of the unique markets in the country where appraisers have collaborated together to make sure that the square footage figures appraisers use in their appraisal reports are as accurate as possible. I’ve shared with you in the past what AGDA is and why it is so important if you work in this area.

One of the top questions you should ask your Birmingham, AL area appraiser is what data sources they use, and if AGDA is not one of them this should weigh heavily in your decision.

Geographic competence- The first characteristic I discussed above was experience, relating to how long the appraiser has been doing their job. Geographic competence is another type of experience related to how well an appraiser knows the area the appraisal assignment is in.

An appraiser can have 20 years of experience appraising houses but know little about a specific market. An appraiser with a high level of Geographic competence for a specific area will know about the subtleties of the market. They will know that it’s okay to use comparable sales from 4 blocks away as opposed to the house that recently sold that was only 2 blocks away because it is in a different municipality or school system.

I’m still hearing stories of appraisers coming in from out of the area to appraise in the Birmingham, AL market. This is not a good practice because many of these appraisers do not know the market like local appraisers do. By interviewing the appraiser you can find out how many appraisals they do in your area to determine if they are familar with the market.

Reputation- An appraiser’s reputation is built on providing honest, reliable and quality appraisal services to their clients. The quality of an appraisal should not be measured by whether the final opinion of value came in at where you thought it should but rather what the market data indicates.

To be honest, I’ve done pre listing appraisals in the past where the final value was not where the owner wanted it to be. Most of the times they thought it should be higher (imagine that 😉 ), but they trusted my appraisal and factored it into their listing price. They ended up selling it for at or near the appraised value with no value issues from the mortgage appraisal that was done for the buyer prior to closing.

One way to determine the quality of reputation of your appraiser is by reading their testimonials. Much of the work I do I get through word of mouth of prior clients. If you are interested in finding out the reputation of the appraiser you are thinking of hiring then you should speak to those that have used their services in the past.

Heart of a teacher- I’ll admit I stole this from Dave Ramsey, but it is something I truly believe. How many times  have you been talked down to, talked over, or not talked to at all?

If you are getting an appraisal through a bank you don’t have the choice of picking the appraiser, but if you need a private appraisal for like the ones I described above you do have the power to choose who you want.

You should seek to pick an appraiser who will explain to you the appraisal process so you will understand why they came up with the value they did.

Question- Do you need additional help in choosing an appraiser for your valuation needs? While I didn’t provide you with a list of names I hope that the list of criteria I’ve highlighted will help you in your search for the top real estate appraisers in Birmingham, AL. If they possess the characteristics I described I don’t think you can go wrong.

If I can assist you in your appraisal needs feel free to give me a call. Please leave a comment below and let’s keep the conversation going. As always, thanks for Reading.

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Comments

  1. Good overview on what the prospective user of appraisal services need to look at, Tom.

  2. I will give your readers a list of the top real estate appraisers in Birmingham, AL.
    1. Tom Horn
    2. Tom Horn
    3. Tom Horn

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