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An appraisal is a valuation tool used by mortgage lenders to verify a property's worth for prospective financing. The mortgage industry relies upon a qualified, independent real estate appraiser to guide them in their financing decisions. But is this the only reason to get an appraisal? Many homeowners, assessor's offices, attorneys, buyers and sellers utilize appraisals for a variety of needs such as the following reasons:

Property Tax Assessments

Challenging the tax assessment has become a necessity in many parts of the country. Unfortunately, most people go into these challenges unarmed. They may pull some information from the Internet to support their claims, but have no real basis for their claims. A real estate appraiser can provide the accurate answers to the question of value. While it may not be economical to commission a full appraisal to save a few hundred off your tax bill, often an appraiser can do a limited appraisal for much less, yet with the same conclusions and integrity. An appraisal from a qualified appraiser would be a step in the right direction in any dispute with your local tax assessor.

Some thing to think about - A $100,000 reduction in property value would be a minimum savings of $1,250 in property tax per year in California.

Estate Planning

In times of loss, it is often difficult to think of the various steps that must be taken to resolve any outstanding monies of the deceased. An appraisal is required to establish fair market values of any real estate properties in the estate for tax filings and any presentation to multiple heirs. The aid of an appraisal is a necessity to dispose of the estate properly.

Divorce

In unfortunate circumstances, such as divorce, appraisals are required so that both parties involved receive a fair and impartial value so that they can concentrate on more important aspects during difficult time. An appraisal by a qualified, independent professional third party is often required by attorneys to settle the divorce.

Feasibility - Land Utilization Studies

Often appraisers are required when townships are planning certain uses of land, rezoning, implementation of housing developments, traffic infrastructure, cost benefit analysis and a whole host of various projects. The appraiser’s responsibility to deliver an accurate appraisal report is a necessary response to the question of fair market value.

Appraisal Audits & Appraisal Reviews

Appraisal Audits are performed to see if an  appraiser provided a credible report that has met the minimum standards of the appraisal profession. This is determined by searching for errors or omissions within that report. If it has been found that the appraisal report lacks credibility, and the client wishes to pursue legal damages, then an Appraisal Review is performed.  

Appraisal Reviews are written appraisals by a qualified person to reconfirm the property's fair market value as of the date of the appraisal reviewed. They are also used in the act or process of developing and communicating an opinion about the quality of another appraiser's work.

 
For instance, say an appraiser did an appraisal for their client in a divorce settlement that favored his client with a very low value. If it is proven that the appraisal report is faulty because the appraiser made an error or omitted data that caused the report to state an incorrect value, then the party that is harmed can sue the appraiser for those errors or omissions.

 
Other examples are when Real Estate Agents lose their commission from a sale that was cancelled because of an erroneous appraisal report or when an investor has a loss of opportunity cost because they relied on the information from a faulty appraisal report.