Flint Hills Appraisals has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Flint Hills Appraisals is always eager to address any concerns you might have about appraisals or real estate in Riley County. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your specific valuation problems.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
Why would someone require a real estate appraisal?
How is an appraiser different than a home inspector?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?
What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?
After completing the appraisal, what guarantee is there that the value conclusion is veritable?
What goes into an appraiser's certification?
Who engages the services of appraisers?
Where does Flint Hills Appraisals get the information used to estimate values in Riley County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
Does the appraiser need anything from me in advance?
What is "Market Value?"
Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?
Which home renovations add the most to the price?



Describe an appraisal   (Top)

The appraisal process is an evaluation that generates an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which helps the appraiser come to this opinion or valuation. One of the processes in use is the Cost Approach, which finds what it would cost to restore the improvements to the house, less the depreciation and physical dilapidation, adding the land value. Another of the approaches is the Sales Comparison Approach - which deals with discovering a comparison to other similar properties within a close vicinity which have recently sold. Usually, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most accurate indicator of market value of a home. The third approach is the Income Approach, which is the most important method in appraising income producing properties - it deals with estimating what an investor would pay based on the capital produced by the property.

What does an appraiser do?   (Top)

An appraiser provides a professional, unbiased opinion of market value, in the support of real estate transactions. Appraisers reveal the details of their findings in appraisal reports.


Why would someone require a real estate appraisal?   (Top)

There are a lot of reasons to purchase an appraisal with the usual reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for purchasing an appraisal report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • To reduce your property taxes.
  • To build a case for a homeowner's equity and remove insurance.
  • To fight inflated property taxes.
  • To handle an estate.
  • To offer you a leg-up when purchasing a home.
  • To determine an honest price when selling real estate.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • It's possible you could have to deal with being in a lawsuit - an appraisal will help.
For a more extensive explanation of the appraisal process click here.


How is an appraiser different than a home inspector?   (Top)

Home inspectors do not estimate an opinion of value and do not use the same forms as appraisers. An inspection is a third-party investigation of the available structure and mechanical systems of a house, from the roof to the bottom. The standard property inspector's report will include an evaluation of the condition of the home's heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and accessible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?   (Top)

To be blunt, it's like comparing opera to country. The CMA depends on indefinite trends in the market. The appraisal relies on specific verifiable comparable sales. Also, the appraisal looks at other factors like condition, location and replacement costs. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." Being a documented and carefully investigated opinion of value, appraisals are defensible and stand up in legal situations.

Who's creating the report is actually the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. A CMA is written by a real estate agent who may or may not be trained in technical valuation concepts or even have a handle on market trends. A certified, Kansas licensed professional who has formed a career on valuing homes in and around Riley County is behind the appraisal. Moreover, the appraiser is an unbiased party, with no conditional interest in the property's value, unlike the real estate agent, whose income is tied to the value of the home.

What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?   (Top)

The main point of an appraisal report is to let the reader know the value of the real estate in question, and depending on the scope of the report, one will customarily see the following:
  • The client and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The appraisal's purpose.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the appraisal.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Pertinent property attributes, including: location, physical description, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest valued, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, permanent equipment installations and even intangible items.
  • All known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and other items of a similar nature.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • The scope of work used to complete the job.
For a more in depth view of the work that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


After completing the appraisal, what guarantee is there that the value conclusion is veritable?   (Top)

In communicating an appraisal report, each appraiser must see to it that each of the items below are covered:
  • That the information analysis implemented in the appraisal was suitable.

  • Whether individually or collectively, there were no major errors contained in the report, nor any relevant details left out.

  • That appraisal services were not conducted in a careless or negligent manner.

  • That a credible, defensible appraisal report was communicated.
To become a state licensed appraiser, there are education requirements as well as on the jobexperience that must be logged - all with the objective of gaining the skills required to render unbiased value opinions. Plus, appraisers must follow a strict industry code of ethics and observe national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for carrying out an appraisal and documenting its results are insured by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Top) Licensing and certification takes coursework, tests and experience working under a supervisor. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she must then complete continuing education courses so that the license doesn't expire. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who engages the services of appraisers?   (Top)

Most of the time, appraisers are employed by mortgage lenders to estimate the value of a home involved in a loan transaction - to make sure the property is indeed adequate collateral for the loan. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does Flint Hills Appraisals get the information used to estimate values in Riley County or other areas?   (Top)

One of the most important activities of an appraiser is to collect data. Data can be classified as either Specific or General. Specific data is collected from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are noted by the appraiser while on site.

General data is gathered from a numerous sources. Local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) have information on recently sold homes that might be used as comparables. To verify actual sales prices, we look at items in the assessor's office and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Flood zone data is available from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood service.

And most importantly, the appraiser gathers general data from his or her past experience in creating appraisals for other houses in the same market.


How can a licensed appraiser help me?   (Top)

Any time the value of your home or other real property is being used to make a significant financial decision, an appraisal helps. For those selling a home, you'll want to figure out a price that gets you the most profit but doesn't leave your home on the market too long; an appraisal can help with that. If you're buying, it makes sure you don't overpay. For people settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Flint Hills Appraisals is the best way to ensure assets are split up evenly. Simply put, a house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Don't make decisions in the dark with a professional appraisal.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Top)

PMI is an acronym for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI covers the lender in the event a borrower defaults on the loan and the value of the house is less than the balance of the loan. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

Does your monthly house payment include a fee for PMI?Call Flint Hills Appraisals today at 785-532-9410 or send us an e-mail. Documentation of your home's current value could save you thousands.

Does the appraiser need anything from me in advance?   (Top)

We begin with an inspection of the property. During this process, the appraiser will come to your home and measure it, determine the layout of the rooms inside, confirm all aspects of the home's general condition, and take several photos of your house for inclusion in the report. On the home's interior, pick up any clutter and make sure we can access things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any landscaping so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of outside walls.

The following items, if available, will help your appraiser to provide a more accurate appraisal in a shorter period of time:
  • Written property agreements, such as a maintenance easement for a shared driveway.
  • List of personal property to be sold with the building.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, your septic system and wells.
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and upgrades, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of central air conditioning or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
  • A bill for your most recent real estate taxes which should also contain a legal description of the property.

What is "Market Value?"   (Top)

In real estate appraising, Market Value (as opposed to Fair Market Value) is commonly defined as:

"The most probable price (in terms of money) which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably, and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby: the buyer and seller are typically motivated; both parties are well informed or well advised, and acting in what they consider their best interests; a reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market; payment is made in terms of cash in United States dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale."



Does the appraisal belong to the bank or the consumer?   (Top)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders the appraisal, either directly or through a third party. While the buyer pays for the report as part of the closing costs, the lender retains the right to use the report or any information contained within. The buyer is certainly entitled to a copy of the appraisal - it's usually bundled with all the other closing documents - but is not allowed to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

The exception to this rule is when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these scenarios, the appraiser may state how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not noted otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


Which home renovations add the most to the price?   (Top)

Like all things real estate, this is dependent on a home's location. For example, installing an inline humidifier could be nice in arid regions, but completely useless near the coast!

No matter where you go, however, renovating a kitchen is almost always a safe move. According to one national survey, kitchen remodels returned an average of 88% of the investment. In other words, a $10,000 kitchen remodeling project would add approximately $8,800 to the value of the home. Bathrooms were second, yielding 85%. On the contrary, work that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.