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5 Reasons to Have Your Home Appraised: An Interview with Matt Simmons of Maxwell Hendry Simmons

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Maxwell, Hendry & Simmons, LLC is one of the oldest and largest real estate appraisal firms in Southwest Florida. Founded in 1983 as W. Michael Maxwell & Associates, the company has provided appraisal and consulting services since its inception in downtown Fort Myers. As a full-service firm, we provide residential and commercial valuation services to a broad spectrum of private, commercial and government clients.

What is one of the most common reasons that someone has their house appraised?

Most of us think about appraisals only in the sense of getting one through a bank when buying a house. While that's the most common reason, appraisals are useful to appeal your assessment for taxes, securing replacement cost insurance, estate planning, pre-listing, and for various forms of litigation. There are literally hundreds of ways to make use of a certified appraisal.

When you're buying a home, how can an independent appraisal help you?

The appraiser is often the ONLY individual in the transaction who doesn't stand to benefit from the sale of a property. Our fee has no contingency and our role is truly to act as an unbiased third party. A knowledgeable appraiser can give a buyer peace of mind about a sale or, in some instances, prevent them from overpaying for a property.

How does a home appraisal affect property taxes in Florida?

Individual appraisals don't impact your taxes. Your county elected property appraiser is responsible for certifying values for taxing purposes. However, yearly assessments can be appealed by a property owner, and a certified appraiser, familiar with the assessment appeals process, can be very helpful if you're property was over-assessed.

What tips do you have for a homeowner who wants to take out a home equity loan?

Essentially, be careful. Home equity loans typically carry higher interest rates and they eat into your hard-earned equity. It can be appealing to grab some of that equity when values are increasing but remember, the tide does go back out.

Is there anything that most people don't know about home appraisals that they should know?

I'd say the biggest thing is just how many uses there are for an appraisal. You can save on your tax bill, reduce insurance premiums, get help with setting a listing price, and more with a certified appraisal. With the market improving recently, many people are paying private mortgage insurance unnecessarily. An appraisal can fix that too.

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