5 Questions Your Appraiser Should Be Asking

Why Appraisers Ask Questions

The main objective of the appraisal process is to research and discover as much about the subject property in order to determine its market value. The appraiser’s job is similar to that of a private investigator in that they must interview people, verify information, and gather vital facts about the property they are appraising.

5 Questions Your Appraiser Should Be Asking

After they gather as much data as possible they use that information to locate similar recent sales and listings that match up to the property in order to determine what the subject property is worth. By using properties that are similar to the subject they increase the reliability of the value indication.

In today’s post, I reveal the 5 questions your appraiser should be asking in order to get the most up to date and accurate information possible. Even if they don’t ask you these questions you can provide it to them so they will have the best information available.

Top Questions Your Appraiser Should Ask

1) How long have you owned the home? The appraiser is required to document whether the home has sold within the past three years of the date of the value of the appraisal. In addition to any sales within the past three years, it can be helpful to know in general when it last sold.

By looking at the last sale amount, and applying appreciation, we can get another value indication in addition to the three typical approaches to value, which are the cost, income, and sales comparison approach.

2) Was the last sale an arm’s length transaction? An arm’s length transaction is what you might call a normal sale. The exact opposite of that would be a sale where either the buyer or the seller were motivated such that the price was lower than you might expect.

An example of this would be a foreclosure, divorce sale, or even an estate sale. These types of transactions can result in the sale price being lower than normal.

There are situations where the price could have been higher than typical. This could have occurred if the buyer really wanted the home for whatever reason and they paid more than what it was worth. This doesn’t occur much but it does happen on occasion.

In both of these situations, the prior sale may or may not be relevant. If it is arm’s length transaction it can be used to support the final value estimate.

3) Have you made any improvements to the home since buying it? This is a very important question to ask. Some improvements are easy to see whereas others are not.

It is important for the appraisal to reflect all of the improvements the property has had. This helps the appraiser to estimate the property’s effective age and it helps the appraiser to make age and condition adjustments.

It is important to keep in mind that not all improvements contribute to value in the same way. Some updates or renovations will return more money than others.

4) Have you listed the home for sale recently? You may wonder why this is important. Besides reporting the sale and listing history of the subject the appraiser can use this information when reconciling the value.

By knowing whether a property was previously listed and at what amount the appraiser can study what the market reaction to the price was. If it had several price reductions before expiring or being taken off the market we may surmise that the last price it was listed at was the upper limit of value.

Market exposure of the listing can also provide helpful information. If a home was exposed to the market longer than what is typical it gives us another positive indication that the price was too high.

5) What would you consider the top-selling points for your neighborhood? Knowing what features attract buyers to a neighborhood can give us insight into what influences value. If we know what matters to buyers we can analyze what effect those factors have on value.

An appraiser’s job is to determine why buyers pay what they do. By interviewing homeowners about what they consider attractive features we can then look for sales with those features.

By doing this we can compare properties that share the same selling points, which provides the best estimate of value.


Is your appraiser asking these questions? If not you can still provide this information to them to ensure that they have the most accurate information to do their job. Feel free to leave a comment below and as always, thanks for reading.

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  1. kathleen j. morris says

    Thanks Tom for your informative web site. We were trying to get a fair appraisal for a refi.
    The appraiser the bank picked was grossly unfair. I typed out for the appraiser specific home
    improvements we had done. Most very extensive which would have certainly been high points to raise
    value of our home. Such as – family room addition, new roof, added bathroom, attached in-law apartment, 2 new out buildings for storage… This unfair appraiser did not include any of them.
    She immediately contacted the lending firm and told them to ditch the deal, and went on to tell them
    lies . She told them our foundation was falling apart.. which was not true, she told them we had space heaters through out our home, which was not true.. We had one wall mounted one outside vented . She told them we did not have a central heating system which was a lie… We have a
    oil furnace in the basement which has custom vents to each room. She went on to tell them we
    did not pull building permits for addition.. which is not required as our home is grandfathered in .. in rural farm country, for which a permit is NOT required.. She smeared our appraisal and in fact lied as when we asked for a copy of it the lending company said she did not do an appraisal yet prior to that they said they did. The whole thing is a sham! We refused to pay for this bogus appraisal that never was! The woman came in suspicious.. she refused to tell us her last name and refused to give us any verification as an appraiser, she refused to give us a business card.. saying she does not have business cards! We live in the corrupt perverse Democratic run state of Michigan. I was a Whistle Blower to gross fraud and corruption years ago of this state when employed at a facility which was licensed by the State of Michigan, where horrendous human rights abuses were going on.. where every person incarcerated in this fake head injury facility was under a bogus guardianship which held them hostage. Since being a Whistle Blower our life has been hell. We have been harassed
    at every angel by the State. The State licenses APPRAISER’S ! Lets put two and two together
    and it is clear we targets of retaliation of this crooked state. We believe this whole appraisal process is a sham and very unfair. We were able to get a appraisal about 12 years ago.. it was unfair also, but we did our homework and did not allow the crook to get away with it.. We at least got enough to help us out but it was indeed very unfair appraisal. These crooks are obviously getting paid bribe money to do low appraisals because the states main agenda is to bankrupt whistle blowers who expose their crimes. Now we are under a worse tyrant.. gov and AG… each one gets worse and worse and they all have their noses into any Whistle blowers of the state to put them under. This is my observation of the whole scam of appraisers.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your bad situation. Appraising and lending are very highly regulated and there may be some things you can do to remedy the situation. There may be a state regulatory agency that you may be able to tell your story to. I’m sorry but that is the only thing I can think of. Good luck.

  2. It’s easy to gloss over #4, but it’s a good question because a home owner can list a home on many different websites and platforms these days besides the MLS. While being listed for sale on MLS is still the primary vehicle in today’s market, I think being for sale can also happen in other places too. Good reminder.


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