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.
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
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Related Posts:

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

The Property Tax Appeal Process: An Appraiser’s Perspective

Appealing Taxes in Medina County Medina

Medina, OH: Appealing County Auditor Tax Valuation or Appraisal

Medina County has more than 82,000 separate parcels of real estate property. It is the duty of the Auditor to see that every parcel of land, and the buildings thereon, are fairly and uniformly appraised and then assessed for tax purposes. A general reappraisal is mandated by Ohio Law every six years and an update every three years. The office maintains a detailed record of the appraisal on each parcel in the County, and these records are open for public inspection on the Medina County Auditor’s website.

Medina County Appraisal and Appraisal Updates

The next significant dates for Medina County property owners to know about their assessed values are:

  • Appraisal Updates: You can expect appraisal updates to arrive by mail by the 4th Week of August in 2016.
  • Reappraisals: You can expect a full reappraisal by the Medina County Auditor in the 4th week of August in 2019.

These dates are significant to property owners because your property taxes are based on the appraised, or tax assessed, value of the property. Although the Auditor cannot raise your property taxes, your tax bill is based on the assessed value of your property, multiplied by the tax rate in your community.  If you feel that the assessed value of your property is much higher than the property is worth, you could be paying unnecessary taxes on an inflated value.

Appealing Your Tax Assessed Value in Medina County

The Medina County Auditor’s objective is to give the most fair and objective assessment of your property’s market value, or what it would be worth were you to sell it today, which they do to their best ability.  However, there may be miscalculations, or things about your property the Auditor’s Office is unaware of.  For Example, if your garage was severely damaged in a storm, your basement suffered thousands of dollars of damage in a flood or a fire left portions of your home with deferred maintenance,  it’s possible the true market value of your home is much less than the tax-assessed value.  If this is the case, there is a process to appeal the county’s appraised value, in order to lower the taxable amount on your property taxes.

Step 1: Burden of Proof is On Property Owner

By Ohio law, the burden of proof to establish market value is on the property owner.  At Fast Appraisals we get many tax appeal appraisal requests from home owners that wish to submit our property appraisal report, completed by a certified appraisal, as evidence to support (or prove) the market value of the property is lower than the County Auditor’s assessed value.  We typically have appraisers in Medina County a few times each week and also anticipate extra orders around the time Medina County Auditor appraisals and appraisal updates go out, the last week in August 2016, 2019 and every three years following, meaning Fast Appraisals will be able to provide you with an appraisal in time to appeal the property value.

Step 2: Attend Special Hearing to Contest County Appraisal

Appealing your tax valuation can be done in any year, not just when the county does their appraisals and appraisal updates, but there are two benefits to making sure you act fast if you feel a county appraisal or update is inaccurate:

  1. Medina County, and most Ohio counties, give you a small window of 2 weeks +/- to attend a scheduled hearing specifically to appeal the assessment.  This process means you have to get evidence, like an appraisal from a licensed real estate appraiser, in time for the hearing, but it’s a much faster appeal process than the more traditional filing with the Board of Revision.  In times of reappraisals and updates, it is recommended to get your evidence and attend the special appeal hearings when possible.  The county may also have office hours during this same time period to address homeowners that feel their property values were unfairly assessed.
  2. When you successfully appeal the tax assessed value, that assessment will usually be the value your property taxes are based on for the next three years.

For more information on Medina County’s last full reappraisals, in 2013, read “Drop Slows for County’s Property Values.”

Step 3: Traditional Method of Appealing Medina Property Value

If you are not available to attend the special hearings scheduled for appealing the new tax appraisals or appraisal updates, you may follow the standard process for appealing your property value in Medina County. A comprehensive outline of that process can be found by clicking this link on the Medina County Auditor’s website “How to Appeal Your Property Value“. You will still need evidence, such as an appraisal report from a licensed property appraisal company like Fast Appraisals, and you will need to complete DTE Form 1 “Complaint Against the Valuation of Real Property”. Filings are accepted starting January 1st and the deadline to file is March 31st.

To order a property appraisal from Fast Appraisals for a tax appeal call us at 216-932-4663 or fill out our tax appeal appraisal form and we will contact you for more property information and/or to schedule an appraisal.

Divorce Appraisal in Cleveland Divorce Appraisal

Do You Need a Home Appraisal for Your Divorce?

Appraisal for DivorceThe process of going through a divorce is generally not pleasurable – but assessing the value of your property doesn’t have to be a hurdle.  Although a divorce will require a professional assessment of what your marital property is worth, the property valuation for your divorce can be a simple process.  At Cleveland Home Appraisals (aka FAST Appraisals) we have been working with home owners throughout Northeast Ohio – including Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Medina, Lorain and Summit counties to provide quality home appraisal reports in divorce cases for many years.

Expert Testimony – Divorce Appraisal

The majority of home valuations we deliver at Cleveland Home Appraisals for the divorce process are completed quickly and without the need for a court appearance.  However, when a court appearance is necessary, our certified appraisers also deliver expert divorce appraisal testimony where we support our reports at a hearing and/or with additional supporting market valuation data.

Although we work on a number of divorce case appraisals and most are not contested, whether the case is contested or collaborative, Cleveland Home Appraisals (also doing business as FAST Appraisals) consistently gathers all the information possible to present the most thorough report.

Multiple Valuations: Marriage, Property Improvements and Divorce

A recent divorce case we worked on in Cuyahoga county required multiple valuations over the course of the marriage.

1.  Property Value at the Time of the Marriage:  Assessing the property value at the time of the marriage requires research to determine a Retrospective Appraisal, or the value of the property based on a date in the past.

2.  Value of Improvements Made During Marriage:  Determining the value of improvements made during the time of the marriage will involve gathering details of all home improvements made and the impact they would have on the value of the property.  The value of home improvements are typically more difficult for parties to agree on and can seem more subjective, however when our certified home appraisers provide supportive, detailed valuations and adjustments, the data can be compelling.

3.  Value of Property at Time of Divorce:  Whether one of the parties is keeping the home, or the property is being sold to divide proceeds, an appraisal of the home’s market value at the time of the divorce will likely be required .

Appraisal to Determine if Home Can be Sold

Lastly, a recent divorce appraisal case for Cleveland Home Appraisals was in order to determine if the home owned by the couple could be sold for an amount that would cover mortgages and fees.  The couple going through the divorce preferred to acquire a certified real estate appraisal rather than consult with a realtor in order to determine from an unbiased source what the home’s market value was.  In this particular case, our certified appraisers worked directly with the attorneys and determined the sale of the property was definitely a feasible option for the home owners.

The team at Cleveland Home Appraisals  specializes in working with home owners, attorneys and lending professionals to provide quality home appraisals for divorce, bankruptcy, estate appraisals, tax appeal, pre-listing appraisals and more throughout the Greater Cleveland area.  Contact Cleveland Home Appraisal for a professional property valuation of your home for a divorce appraisal.
by calling us at 216-932-4663, or fill out the contact us form on our SERVICES page. Give as much information as you can, and we’ll get back in touch with you to process the appraisal order.

Divorce Appraisal
Home Appraisal in the Divorce Proceedings
Tax Appeal: an Appraisers Perspective Cuyahoga County Tax Appeals

The Property Tax Appeal Process: An Appraiser’s Perspective

Cuyahoga County Board of Tax Appeals

(Recent update to tax appeal content: 2021 Cuyahoga County Tax Appraisals)

For my first blog post I wanted to share my experiences with the  Cuyahoga County Board of Tax Appeals.  One of the many reasons a consumer may request an appraisal of their home  is to appeal their tax valuation, or the value at which the property has been assessed for property tax purposes.  As a Licensed Real Estate Appraiser I prepare many appraisal reports for home owners who intend to submit the appraisal to the county for an appeal of their tax evaluation. When the board has questions about the report submitted, I will occasionally be called-in to explain the report and justify the approach I used to reach the appraised value.

After presenting a few comments about my credentials, and how I arrived at the property valuation contained in the report, I am generally asked a few reasonable questions.  In this capacity, as an expert property appraiser, my objective is to keep my answers brief and direct, as to not waste the board’s time.

Multi-Family Property Appraisal in Lakewood, Ohio

This most recent experience was regarding a four-family home in Lakewood, Ohio – typically a more complicated report than a single-family appraisal.  The tax appeal process seemed very fair and reasonable.  The Cuyahoga County Board of Tax Appeals was made up of experienced board members who asked pertinent appraisal questions concerning the residential appraisal report in question.  I was also impressed to learn they now have property appraisers on staff, as well as access to the property database known as the MLS (Multiple Listing System or Multiple Listing Service).

The board was professional, and as a long-time residential property appraiser,  I found the whole process to be effective.

Doing real estate appraisals for almost 20 years throughout Cuyahoga and surrounding counties, as well as being a real estate investor in the Greater Cleveland area over the years, I have both professional and real-world experience.  This experience adds to the credibility of my report as well as to the confidence with which I address the board when I think that the customer’s house has been over-valued by the county and is paying too much for taxes.

The purpose of a well-researched appraisal report, is to compile the relevant data to support that conclusion and save the tax-payer money.  The board is not there to argue, but to simply ask reasonable questions as to the conclusions made in the report in order to fulfill their job of representing the other tax payers and the rest of their community.

Use of Short-Sales or Foreclosures in Tax Appeals

Recently, I found that the board should not reject short sales or foreclosed sale transactions when assessing a home’s value.  However, it’s the job of the Appraiser to examine how these transactions fit into the big picture and justify their opinion with real data and supporting expertise.  I would not suggest to any home-owner, or property appraiser, to approach a tax-appeal with all short sale transfers or foreclosures.

Overall, from this Property Appraiser’s perspective, a thumbs-up to the system of the tax appraisal and appeals process – specifically with the Cuyahoga County Board of Tax Appeals.

Please comment below about your experiences at the board, or feel free to ask questions.

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