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Alternative Appraisals Cleveland Appraisal Industry & Trends

Alternative Appraisals: Curbside Appraisals, Drive-By Appraisals, Desktop Appraisals, Hybrid…

Due to COVID-19, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Accepting Alternative Appraisals Until May 17th, 2020

On March 23rd the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, released a rule directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to allow alternative appraisals as a result of the coronavirus outbreak through May 17th, 2020.  (FHFA News Release)
"To allow for homes to be bought, sold, and refinanced as our nation deals with the challenges of the coronavirus, the Enterprises will leverage appraisal alternatives to reduce the need for appraisers to inspect the interior of a home for eligible mortgages" the news release reads.
The FHFA failed to define what "alternative appraisals" specifically are, leaving most in the industry to assume the concept is clear enough and that an appraisal without an interior inspection is the safest measures for both the home owners and the appraisers.  Alternative appraisals could be either drive-by appraisals, desktop appraisals, hybrid appraisals or a curbside appraisal.  At Fast Appraisals our team of Cleveland home appraisers has been efficiently delivering alternative appraisal products for years. They typically have a much faster turn-around time and cost less so are usually the preferred valuation approach for tax appeal appraisals and appraisals needed for probate, estate valuation or divorce.

Alternative Appraisal Products Safer for Coronavirus Concerns and Include Appraiser's Expertise - AVMs Do Not

An alternative appraisal report, like a desktop appraisal, drive-by appraisal or curbside appraisal is prepared with the same comparable sales data and adjustments to derive at the market value as a complete appraisal - however in a drive-by appraisal the exterior photos are taken from the street and in a desktop appraisal the photos are pulled from online resources available to appraisers - in both cases, no physical contact is made with the customer. In a curbside appraisal, the appraisers at Cleveland Home Appraisals coordinate with the customer to use FaceTime on the company tablets to get a clear picture of the interior and exterior of the home. Our appraisers offer virtual appraising with the FaceTime app for customers that have iPhones, iPads, Zoom or another videotelephony service they can use to connect with our appraisers. The contact person walks around house, directed by the appraiser while the appraiser takes screenshots. Our appraisers include screen shots from the FaceTime appraisal in the alternative appraisal report that can help justify relevant adjustments made.   The customer can also include photos or other elements that can be verified if they feel more information is needed to assist the appraiser in calculating the most accurate market value.

AVMs Not Considered Evidence-Based Alternative Appraisal Products

AVMs, an automated valuation model, does not include the expertise and knowledge of an appraiser and although they can be used by lenders to get a quick idea of market data, they do not incorporate on site property inspections, exterior property inspections or a licensed/certified appraisers expertise of the nuances in each town and city in our Greater Cleveland Akron area.  AVMs are likely not included as an "alternative appraisal" product because of their lack of accuracy and the availability of more accurate, evidence-based, market valuations by a licensed/certified appraiser with the more accurate alternative appraisal products like desktop appraisals, drive-by appraisals and curbside / virtual appraisals.

Cleveland Home Appraisals Offers Reliable Appraisal Alternatives

Since the coronavirus concerns have shaken-up the industry, mortgage lenders and stakeholders are encouraged to move forward, with prudence, to use reliable  " appraisal alternatives." Although many Cleveland and Akron area appraisers may not be equipped to offer these appraisal alternative products, the appraisers at Cleveland Home Appraisals are experienced and proficient at fast turn-times and reliable valuations whether you choose a desktop appraisal, drive-by appraisal, hybrid appraisal, curbside appraisal or any modification of a virtual appraisal without physical contact.  Call our appraisal team at  216-932-4663 or fill out our appraisal order form to request a quote and turn around time.
Cleveland Home Appraiser Corona Virus Precautions Appraisal Industry & Trends

Our Home Appraisers Take Precautions for Coronavirus Pandemic

At Fast Appraisals, we are committed to the needs of our customers including, but not limited to, homeowners, mortgage professionals, and other real estate professionals. During these uncertain times, we realize that it is crucial to continue serving our Greater Cleveland and Akron community.

Home Appraisals Considered Essential

Per the Ohio governor's orders, real estate appraisal professionals are considered an essential party to financial institutions and the community.  At this time, we are pleased to inform our customers that Fast Appraisals will remain open during normal business hours. Like many others, we're taking guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which recommends cleaning, disinfecting, hand washing, and avoiding close contact with others.

Maintain Safe Distances and Allow for Quick Home Appraisal

Our staff is committed to taking the precautionary measures to ensure a healthy and safe environment for all. We ask that upon the arrival of an appraiser to your property, you remain at least 6 feet away in distance and allow for a quick and easily accessible inspection. Please note that some of our staff members may choose to wear disposable gloves or face masks.
We are always available to service properties while they are unattended. If you do not feel comfortable with the appraiser entering your home while you are there, we would be happy to make arrangements for the appraiser to enter and move in a timely manner with minimal contact to any surfaces.

Contact Free Method of Home Appraisal: Drive-By and Desktop Appraisals

Also, please remember that we do offer other product types such as drive-by and desktop appraisals which allow for a contact-free method of appraising. Please consider requesting these product types in the event that you would like to contract for our services.
As always, we are happy to accommodate our customers and look forward to working with you. If you would like to request any special accommodations, please call our office to discuss at 216-932-4663.
Thank you to all of our wonderful customers for your continued support.
Cuyahoga County Tax Appeal Appraisal Cuyahoga County Tax Appeals

Cuyahoga & Lake County 6 Year Reappraisal

Letter From Owner and Lead Appraiser

We have been answering calls non-stop regarding the Cuyahoga and Lake counties tax re-assessments so thank you for your patience for those of you who could not get thru.
 
The informal appeal process ends the end of this month, however we have heard that the county may extend this another month. Fingers crossed, as we know many homeowners have not had enough time to get in their appraisal orders.  However, if you miss the deadline to informally appeal your tax reappraisal value with the County Fiscal Officer, you will still have a chance to appeal through the Cuyahoga County Board of Revisions after the first of the year.  It is critical homeowners continue to pay property taxes throughout the dispute process as late fees and penalties will not go away - even if you win your case down the road.
 

Property Valuation Increase Will Not Always Lead to Property Tax Increase

Be advised that just because you have an assessment increase  increase does not mean that your taxes will go up.  That will depend on if your neighbors assessment also went up.  If everyone's house values went up the same percentage, in theory, you will not see a tax increase, for the most part.    (see Reappraisal FAQs on Cuyahoga County's website)
 

Do You Have a Case for Successful Complaint Challenge?

We believe the county's assessment process to be a fair one, but with mass data appraisals, some homeowners will get lost in the shuffle.  We are finding the most dramatic variances between county and actual values are for those homes which are in below average condition, or in need of repair.  However, the burden is on the homeowner to provide evidence for their case.  We have decades of experience dealing with the county and the Board of Revisions process and do not believe the county is "out to get people," but instead that they mostly act as an independent third party on behalf of local governments.
 
By clicking on our tax appeal tab, answering some questions, and emailing pictures of your home, we can help decide if you have a case for a successful complaint challenge. Remember, all property owners will still have an opportunity to challenge their value with the Cuyahoga County Board of Revision regardless of the outcome of their informal valuation challenge. The Board of Revision will generally accept complaints filed between January 1st and March 31st in 2019.
 

Legal Professionals Can Help

If you don't want to deal with paperwork and logistics, are concerned about procedural issues and/or have too much on the line, we do work with three law professionals that  may be able to help you.  They work on contingency or flat fee depending on your situation and we have had great success with them.  They are :
 
All of these tax appeal law professionals also represent matters of commercial property tax appeals as well - while our appraisal company specializes entirely in residential properties.
 

We look forward to helping homeowners address their concerns over the next few months to get the value straight and help the process.

 
Kind regards,
 
Mike Neimeier
CRA
Home Appraisal Ohio Home Sales Appraisal Industry & Trends

Home Appraisers Near Me; Know Values as Ohio Home…

Home Appraiser Near Me; What is Your Home Worth?

Are you living in your home and not sure what the market value of your house is? Do you understand how local sales of houses effects your property value? Home value plays a critical role to understanding your property taxes, and may play a role in determining when to move or downsize. To start, a home appraisal is used to find the current value of your home, and can be considered as evidence to contest your property taxes in the event you feel the county has assessed your home’s value too high. The value of your house shifts based on a number of variables, including home improvements done on the house, damage done to the house, the conditions of the areas you live in, etc. This is why it’s important to keep in mind when your last home appraisal was, and to question ‘is there a reliable home appraiser near me?’

Home Appraiser Near Me; How Local Property Sales Affect Your Home Value

One of the conditions that affect your property value is the perceived benefits of the city where you live. This is based on a variety of things, one being if the status of the housing market. According to a realestate.cleveland.com article, home sales in Ohio are rising while nationally sales have been dropping. “The Ohio Association of Realtors said Thursday that April sales hit their best-ever pace and shattered a high set two years ago, based on seasonally adjusted annual figures. The monthly sales rate was up 3.3 percent from April 2017 and marked a 1.8 percent gain from March of this year.” Despite the market for housing in Ohio excelling, another article on crainscleveland.com also claims that Cleveland is still one of the more affordable areas. “The 10 most affordable metros in the country are mainly in the Rust Belt, with six in Ohio, three in Pennsylvania, and one in upstate New York. In these areas, a house costs between two and 2.7 years of income — that is, four or five times less than in the least affordable metros.” These different market variables further enforce the need for home appraisal.

Home Appraisal Near Me; Cleveland Area Fast & Fair Home Appraisal

If you’re looking for ‘a dependable home appraiser near me’,  we’re proud to fill that role. At Cleveland Home Appraisals, our team of professionals will give you a fair evaluation of your home’s value. We have a reputation for being experts in our communities with many of our home appraisers having decades of experience and knowledge in the more mainstream suburbs like Medina, North Olmsted, Parma and Wickliffe to the more complicated areas like Ohio City, Tremont, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights and more. If you are in need of a home appraisal, contact us, fill out our order sheet for a residential appraisal or call 216-932-4663 today.

Summit county property appraisal rising prices Geauga County

Summit County Property Appraisal: Rising Prices, Why You Need…

Summit County Property Appraisal; Values Rising

Are you seeing a recent increase in news articles mentioning the rise of property values near you? Do you hear talk of how people in the area need home appraisals to find the value of their home, but are lost and confused about what this means? A recent article published by cleveland.com mentions the rise of property values in the local summit county, but some people aren’t aware of this. “In Akron, properties on average increased by 2 percent, but the values inside the city ranged from a 30 percent gain in one cluster, to a 22 percent loss,” the article says, with some of the biggest gains being areas like avenues at Chapel Hill, with an increase of 30 percent; Grafton roads in Fairlawn, gaining 27 percent; and Sovereign Road and Oneida Avenue in Northwest Akron, gaining 27 percent. With recent changes in home values, it’s important to know the pricing of your property.

Summit County Property Appraisal; Can I Challenge Appraisal Value?

Another article published by wkyc.com mentions how residents have tried challenging the summit county property appraisal value of their home. One woman by the name of Hillegas spoke with an appraiser about her homes increase in value- nearly 30 percent more than before. “[The appraiser] did answer that all of that won’t be on my tax bill. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get a reduction,” said Hillegas. Another resident of a nearby county also tried to challenge a raise in her propery value. “In Geauga County, one resident took her concerns to the county auditor’s office after her home value increased approximately $30,000. The office helped to negotiate a new deal that same day bringing that number back down.”

Property Appraisal Helps Negotiate Tax Assessment

With this said, it’s important to find an accurate property appraisal of your home with the recent shifts in property value. At Cleveland Home Appraisals, our team of professionals will give you a precise evaluation of your home’s value. We make sure that you will know exactly what your property is worth, so you can challenge any false prices set on your home. If you are in need of summit county property appraisal, contact us, fill out our order sheet for a residential appraisal or call 216-932-4663 today to find an accurate home appraisal for your home today.

Bankruptcy Appraisal better than Redfin or Zillow Appraisal Industry & Trends

Bankruptcy Appraisals: Certified Home Appraisal vs. Realtor Valuation or…

Over the years Fast Appraisals, a Cleveland home appraisals company, has been performing a steady increase in bankruptcy appraisals, or a residential property appraisal to determine the valuation of residential real estate when filing a bankruptcy.  Many home owners that find themselves in financial duress mistakenly assume that a bankruptcy isn’t a viable option if they have equity in their home, but a good bankruptcy attorney will review your options, have you order a legitimate home appraisal from a licensed, certified home appraisal company like Fast Appraisals, and in some cases you could be surprised.

Certified Bankruptcy Appraisal vs. Realtor Valuations and Zillow

The value in a certified home appraisal by a licensed residential appraiser is the most reliable valuation and trends lower than a valuation from a Realtor or home-valuation sites such as Zillow or Redfin. When a real estate broker is selling a home they have financial incentives to get the most they can for the home owner, so their valuation tools assume the highest price based on highest quality, the most home up-dates, the freshest paint, the most curb appeal and all the cosmetic bells and whistles. Valuation websites, like Zillow and Redfin, are financed by Realtor advertising and also motivated to show a high valuation to the home owner, enticing them to consider selling and therefore contacting a Realtor, who in turn pays for the ad placement. Neither of these sources are taking into consideration the reality that your home may have some deferred maintenance – peeling paint, dated kitchen appliances, worn carpet, unreliable HVAC system, front steps in need of replacement, etc. Make sure your bankruptcy attorney isn’t relying on one of these sometimes over-valued methods and order a certified appraisal report for your bankruptcy.

Why Zillow, Redfin & Other Valuation Websites Are Not Enough

  1. bankruptcy appraisal not zillow
    Zillow Great for Advertising Revenue NOT Reliable Valuations in Bankruptcy Filing

    Check the house statistics. Many of the valuation websites have erroneous data on square footage, number of beds and baths, year built, etc.

  2. Check recent sales. What your house is worth typically depends on what houses, similar to yours – meaning comparable in age, size, number of beds and baths, location, style of house and condition of house, have sold for in the past 6 – 12 months.  If the recent sales are further away than a few miles or in far better condition than your home, these houses would typically not be considered in the valuation of your home.
  3. Remember how these sites make money – advertising! Real estate brokers advertise to sell their homes and acquire new clients. Promoting higher values encourages more activity and Realtor engagement.
summit county appraisal Residential Property Appraisals

Summit County: Tax Bills & Property Tax Appraisal Appeals

A recent release on the Summit County Fiscal Officer’s website, Second half 2016 real estate tax bills to be mailed, due on July 14,  reminds all property owners in Summit County that the second-half 2016 real estate tax bills were mailed on June 7, 2017 and due by July 14. The article is also a reminder to property owners in Summit County that it is the property owner’s responsibility to obtain and pay their tax bills on time, so if you haven’t yet received your property tax bill, click on the link above for contact information.

How to Appeal Your Summit County Tax Appraisal:

Worried that your Summit County tax bill is too high? Is the appraised value by the county accurate? How can you appeal the appraised value Summit County is basing your tax bill on? These questions are answered on our page Appealing Your Summit County, Ohio Property Tax Values which we created at the end of 2015 when Summit County property tax assessments were being conducted and mailed to property owners.

Taxpayers who do not agree with the valuation of their property had the opportunity to file a complaint with the Board of Revision for review of property values through March 31, 2017. When a complaint is filed, the Board of Revision schedules a hearing, reviews evidence and testimony, and issues a decision on whether a correction should be made to the valuation.

Typically the property owner will submit evidence, usually what we call a tax appraisal, or tax appeal appraisal, from one of our certified appraisers.  Although that appeal process was back when Summit County was mailing new property value assessments, if you acquired the property recently and weren’t the owner when the real estate was assessed, there may be a process for appealing the county’s appraised value now.  However, it’s more likely that if you purchased the property since the Summit County appraisal, the property tax was disclosed and you will be responsible for paying the property tax bill on time.

Next Summit County Appraisal Updates 2017

If you feel your Summit County real estate has been overvalued by the county and you are too late to appeal the most recent valuation, the triannual appraisal updates are conducted again in 2017.  Call the county to submit evidence of why you feel your property has been over-valued and you may be able to get the property tax assessed value lowered for your next tax bill. Be sure to offer evidence supporting your claim to a lower property valuation, or order a tax appeal appraisal from the certified appraisers at Fast Appraisals and the officials at Summit County will likely be more inclined to take your request seriously. Call us at 216-932-4663 and we’ll be happy to discuss your property valuation questions.

Appealing Your Summit County, Ohio Property Tax Values

Property Tax Appeal Cuyahoga County Tax Appeals

Property Taxes in These Cleveland Suburbs Could Be Increasing

A recent article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer,  One city, one village and 7 school districts ask Cuyahoga County voters for tax increases, explains the reason for potential property taxes based on outcome of May 2nd primary election.

Cuyahoga County Property Tax Appeal 

With property taxes being based on the home's assessed value, it's common when homeowners get a higher property tax bill to look more closely at the county's assessed value. When a home owner thinks the tax assessment is too high they can order a tax appeal appraisal to be used as evidence for requesting a deduction in their tax assessed value, which will in turn reduce their property tax bill.  At Fast Appraisals we not only perform the tax appeal appraisal, we have also been in front of the Cuyahoga County Board of Tax Appeals many times in order to explain our valuation.  

Is Your Tax Assessment Value too High?

Of course there are no guarantees that our valuation will be lower than the valuation made by the county, so we do brief preliminary research and ask the home owner some key questions before moving forward with the home appraisal appointment.  Some key questions might include:

  1. Why do you think the property value assessed by the county is too high?
  2. Have homes similar to yours been selling for substantially less than the tax assessed value?
  3. Do you think it would be reasonable to sell your home for the value assessed by the county?
    1. If not, why - has there been damage to your home or substantial deferred maintenance the county may not be aware of i.e. flood damage, mold issues, outdated/dysfunctional kitchen or bath, foundation issues, etc?
  4. Has there been factors negatively impacting your neighborhood - vacant homes, foreclosed homes, etc?

If your home has not suffered from damage, deferred maintenance or neighborhood factors that would make selling the house at its tax assessed value near absurd and if other homes similar to yours, within a few miles, and in similar condition, are selling for the tax assessed value, it is unlikely that the county has over-valued your home.

 

Cleveland Suburbs Affected By Potential Property Tax Increases

Property Tax Appeal

Cleveland Suburbs Affected:

According to the article, if the tax increases are voted in, the following Cleveland suburbs would be affected:

Walton Hills, Ohio

If the tax issue is voted through in Walton Hills home owners would see their property tax bill increase by $175 per $100,000 in home value beginning in 2017 which would last for four years.

Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Ohio

If the tax issue is voted through in Brecksville-Broadview Heights residents would experience an increase of $210 annually per $100,000 of  their tax-assessed home value beginning in 2017.

Brooklyn, Ohio

If the tax issue is voted through in Brooklyn home owners would pay an additional $17.50 per $100,000 in tax assessed home value also to take effect in 2017.

Chagrin Falls, Ohio

If the tax issue is voted through in Chagrin Falls property owners would be asked to pay an additional $311.50 for each $100,000 in their home's value meaning a home with a tax assessed valuation of $300,000 would experience an annual increase of $934.50 in their property tax bill.

North Royalton, Ohio

If North Royalton residents approve the tax issue their property taxes will increase by $171.50 per $100,000 in the tax assessed value performed by the property appraisal department in Cuyahoga County.

Parma, Ohio

According to the article Parma's schools are still facing a huge budget gap and the proposed ten year property tax increase of $206.50 per $100,000 in tax assessed valuation, to start in 2017, would be designed to rectify the gap.  The article has conflicting information - at one point referring to the tax increase as lasting for ten years while also referring to it as lasting for an indefinite period. Read more about Parma's property values.

Rocky River, Ohio

Although Rocky River voters approved a tax increase in 2012 the district is asking voters to approve an additional increase beginning in 2017 of $171.50 per $100,000 of property tax assessed value. A home assessed at $300,000 in Rocky River would see a property tax increase of $514,40 per year.

Shaker Heights, Ohio

Voters in Shaker Heights approved an operating tax increase only three years ago for renovating the school buildings but the district is proposing a property tax increase of $131.25 per $100,000 of the home's value to raise another $30 million.

 

 

Appealing Property Tax Bankruptcy Appraisals

Expert Witness Testimony: 4 Tips for Appraisers Going to…

At Fast Appraisals we have a lot of respect for all our fellow real estate appraisers and we know that going to court to provide expert witness testimony for an appraisal report you prepared can be very intimidating.  I’m in and out of court a few times a month to provide testimony on appraisals we’ve prepared for tax appeals, bankruptcies and divorce and although I like the break-up of normal appraiser monotony, I see other appraisers who look petrified or distressed, so I’ve prepared a few tips for fellow appraisers being called to testify on one of their reports.  (Inspired by Appraisal for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Providing Expert Witness Testimony, providing testimony against another appraiser with a very different value.)

1) Use Professional Courtesy

Don’t attack the other appraiser. Instead, focus on analysis of the other report – the facts and experiences. In my case I had actually talked with the other appraiser prior to the hearing in the waiting room. I have a lot of respect for our appraiser peers and he didn’t want to even be there. And although we’re two people with conflicting agendas, meaning we’re both explaining why our report is more credible, it’s best to remain professional and there’s no need to take things personal. I actually don’t mind going to court at all – I consider it part of my professional outreach and appreciate the change in scenery from time to time.

2) Expert Witness Testimony

As appraisers we are not obligated to testify as an expert witness as part of providing the report. We are the most qualified to testify about the report we prepared and I would recommend you do, but make sure to get paid as an expert witness. We don’t have to show up to court without a subpoena and if we are subpoenaed we still get paid as an expert witness. If we are not getting paid as an expert witness, we are obligated to only discuss the report in front of us from a factual standpoint. However, the party requesting your support on their behalf should be happy to pay you a professional rate. In this case neither one of was was subpoenaed and the other party, if they did not show up (on three days notice) would have either resulted in a continuance and long delays or they would have had to go without their expertise.

3) Have Confidence in Your Appraisal Report

As long as a credible, quality, appraisal report is provided from the beginning, we as appraisers should have confidence in supporting our decisions in court. Remember, it’s not our job to arrive at a predetermined value but to look at all the data and help people make decisions to move on and resolve issues – whether it’s to appeal tax values, settle a divorce, an estate or a bankruptcy. The system, although not perfect, seems to work very well.

4) Be Prepared but Not Over-Prepared

Overall, knowing what to expect is important to helping the hearing go smooth. Prepare yourself mentally to be a confident witness who’s objective is to deliver helpful information for the court to determine the value of the property. But don’t over-prepare or over-analyze your report or beat yourself up or second guess a decision to use a comp or make an adjustment. Just relax and explain why you made the decisions you made that resulted in the value you delivered. In this case when I didn’t have the answers in front of me or on the top of my head, I simply said so. I did feel sympathy for my peer in this case. It was his first time appearing in court as an expert witness on his own appraisal report and he knew my credentials were superior than his in this particular case – which can certainly establish you as a superior witness when it’s one expert’s opinion against another.

Related Posts Discussing Court Appearances:

Appraisal for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Providing Expert Witness Testimony.

The Property Tax Appeal Process: An Appraiser’s Perspective

bankruptcy appraisal cleveland Bankruptcy Appraisals

Appraisal for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Providing Expert Witness Testimony.

bankruptcy appraisal clevelandAre you filing bankruptcy and wondering how to value your home? Is it the market price? Is it what the county has it appraised for tax assessments? Will you have to use the prices neighbors are listing their house for even though they haven’t been sold? How does a Bankruptcy Court decide whether there’s equity in your home? Although there are many ways to provide the bankruptcy court with a home’s market value – the most official, most accurate method is a full appraisal from a licensed real estate appraiser. (see bankruptcy appraisal)

Bankruptcy Appraisal for Chapter 11

At Fast Appraisals we work with many bankruptcy attorneys and I was just at bankruptcy court today providing expert testimony regarding some questions the court had about our appraisal report (which prompted the blog post). In today’s trial, a real estate investor was filing a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and needed to determine if there was equity in any of the homes that could be used to pay his creditors. In this Chapter 11 Bankruptcy case it was the intention of the creditor (in this case the bank that held the mortgage) to allow the current owner to hold on to the property and write the loan down to current market value at 100% LTV (loan to value).

Two Appraisals. Two Very Different Values.

The bank benefits in this case because it isn’t dropping the the property at liquidation value and the owner benefits because they can still retain possession of the home and can maintain their livelihood. The value of the homes in a bankruptcy case is the value as of the filing date, which in today’s trial was 18 months ago. At that time, 18 months ago, Fast Appraisals performed a full home appraisal and submitted the full residential appraisal report.  The bank holding the mortgage did the same thing. Because the bank’s appraisal and our appraisal were so far apart in the estimated market value the trial had to be set.

Although this was only one of many, many time we’ve been to court to provide our expert testimony regarding a home appraisal, it’s always intimidating walking into the big courtroom with a court reporter, a judge, two attorneys, two interns and the owner of the properties. The other appraiser, the one representing the bank and estimating the house to be worth much more than we had, was in the other room. I wasn’t sure if we would be in a situation to speak to each other and discuss why we both came to such different conclusions on the market value of this property, but we never went head to head.

Reviewing “Opposing” Bankruptcy Appraisal

The Bankruptcy Attorney contacted me a few days prior to let me know what to expect and provided a copy of the bank’s appraisal which our I carefully reviewed. Although it isn’t a competition, and we mean no disrespect to the bank’s appraiser, when you have been doing appraisals and running an appraisal business for over 20 years, when you take pride in what you do and stand behind the quality of your work, a situation like this forces you to be extra-critical of your own appraisal report and compare it to the opposing appraisal in question. I was relieved to see from the beginning that the bank’s appraiser wasn’t local, didn’t have the intimate knowledge of the Cleveland area that I do and lacked the formal education in the appraisal industry.

Questioning Appraisers in Bankruptcy Court

When I typically go to court to provide expert testimony for one of my appraisals it’s for a tax appeal appraisal or divorce appraisal so this was my first experience defending my appraisal against another appraiser’s in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceeding. From what I could tell, it seems these events are mostly protocol. I was questioned for 90 minutes but surprisingly answered very few questions regarding why I chose the comps (comparable sales) that led to the value in the appraisal report. The first 15 minutes was to determine my credibility as an expert witness – at which time the Bankruptcy Attorney representing my client was asking the questions. Then I was asked about the other appraiser’s work and I simply let them know why mine was more credible.

Then I was cross-examined by the other side and it did not go as well. Luckily, the person asking me the questions was not emotionally invested in the outcome – although a true professional and I had to explain that their case was based on no fundamental appraisal principals. I think it’s important for appraisers to remember that attorneys and judges are not appraisers and when we get called-in to testify about our appraisals it isn’t because we did them wrong – it’s because we need to explain to these people, who aren’t appraisers, why we did them right. That’s why we we’re there. All in all I would say that for this bankruptcy case things went well.

Hire Fast Appraisals for Expert Witness Testimony

I have to say that being an expert witness for home values is another home appraisal service that we specialize in at Fast Appraisals. We don’t market it well or have a page devoted to it on the website but I have been at court a handful of times over the past month. I think because I’m usually doing the appraisals, running the office and mentoring other appraisers that when I get the opportunity to provide expert witness testimony it’s enjoyable to some degree. In this case, and based on my clients results and reactions to my testimony, it was another great success.

Mike Neimeier
216-932-4663
email me

Related Posts:

Expert Witness Testimony: 4 Tips for Appraisers Going to Court – Bankruptcy, Divorce, etc.

The Property Tax Appeal Process: An Appraiser’s Perspective

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