How Do I Choose the Best Property Valuation Services?

Judith Smith Sullivan

There are several types of property valuation, or property appraisal, services. To choose the best, you must determine your situation and requirements. Look for a property valuation service provider who is certified, has many years of experience, and comes with excellent recommendations.

A good appraiser will have paperwork detailing their property valuation services in an organized form.
A good appraiser will have paperwork detailing their property valuation services in an organized form.

Individuals buying or selling a home typically require a real estate appraisal, and businesses also may use property valuation services to determine their worth. In the case of divorce proceedings, both parties typically hire an appraiser to value the shared belongings so that the assets can be divided properly. There are also appraisers for a variety of antiques and collectibles.

There are also online property valuation services. These are usually real estate websites which have compiled data from public records, such as tax assessments and recent sales, to determine the approximate value of a home. Online property valuation services often do not provide a specific monetary value because they do not usually have knowledge of the property's condition. In many cases, the actual value of the property differs due to improvements, damage, or other factors.

Online property valuation websites can give a buyer or seller a rough estimate of comparable properties. Although not an official appraisal, this can be useful, especially to individuals who are selling their property without the services of a real estate professional. Sometimes a property is in a remote location or is unique to the area. In this case, online valuation services provide little or no assistance, as there are no surrounding comparable properties.

When you have determined the type of appraiser you need, begin your search. Search online, look at the listings in your local phone book, and ask friends and family for recommendations. After finding a property valuation service that specializes in the field you need, meet the appraiser in person before contracting with them. Look for someone who can back up their research with comparables. Double check with the county or region's geographic information service (GIS) to find similar properties and their tax assessed values.

You should ask a few key questions when you meet with the appraisers of a property valuation service. First, find out how long the company has been in business, how many years they have completed evaluations in the specialty you require, and if they are certified by the regional government or other organization. If they are not certified, ask them to give you an example of why they are equally qualified as a certified appraiser.

After you get some background, ask them to explain the process of a typical evaluation. A good appraiser will have paperwork detailing their property valuation services in an organized form. During this time, you should also address who, if not the individual you are interviewing, will be making the appraisal. Ask to have a meeting with that individual and review his or her credentials as well.

An appraiser who is professional and well qualified will be prepared to answer your questions thoughtfully and thoroughly. If the appraiser seems defensive or offended, it might be an indication that they are not confident in their work or have something to hide. Not only will working with this type of person be difficult, but you might also receive an incorrect assessment of your property due to their lack of professionalism.

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