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Frequently Asked Questions About Home Appraisals: An Interview with Marten W. Davis, SRPA, of Gulf to Bay Appraisals

By Marten Davis, SRPA

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

Marten W. Davis, SRPA has been a full-time appraiser since 1968 serving the Indianapolis, Indiana area until 2001. Mr. Davis serves the Southern Pinellas and Manatee County areas doing residential appraisals for consumers, attorneys, FannieMae and mortgage companies.

What is one of the most common questions people ask you about home appraisals and the answer to it?

What is your fee? Why is your fee higher than the best fee that I have found?

People are always interested in "what will this cost me?" In the appraisal field, most times you get what you pay for as most of the best and most experienced appraisers position their fee at the top of the fee range and the less experienced, at the lower end of the fee range. If you are making an important decision based on the appraisal, the fee is a very small cost consideration. A great decision by the consumer, based on the best valuation advice, is a highly important consideration.

How is the price of a home appraisal set?

The price is set by agreement between the appraiser and the client and is mostly dependent on the experience and standing of the appraiser and the format of the appraisal needed. The more experience or complexity of the assignment, typically the higher the fee. There is a lot of competition in this field, but the time required of the appraiser to complete large volumes of assignments is very limited. This makes the appraiser set fees based on their available time and his/her desired workload. Appraiser are like attorneys in their fees are based on estimated time to complete the assignment.

How long does an appraisal typically take?

The physical inspection of the property typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes dependent on the complexity of the property being appraised. Some very expensive high end properties take much longer. The writing of the appraisal takes 1 to 4 hours depending on the complexity and the format of the appraisal report.

What are the most important aspects of a home appraisal that a homeowner should pay attention to?

Selection of the most competent appraiser is really the most important aspect that the homeowner should pay critical attention to. Study the qualifications and experience of the considered appraisers and interview the final few to see which one impresses and fits your situation best. It is also suggested that an appraiser with an advanced professional designation be selected. They are guaranteed to have a great deal of advanced training, education and experience. You will see professional designation letters at the end of their name (e.g., Marten W. Davis, SRPA). The Appraisal Institute is the largest and oldest and most respected professional appraisal organization. What advice do you have for a homeowner who doesn't agree with the results of their home appraisal?

Selection of the appraiser BEFORE the appraisal is most important if the homeowner is the one employing the appraiser. If not, there are procedures for questioning the appraisal for most assignment types. The best appraisers are usually very good at explaining the reasoning behind their opinion. If the appraisal was ordered through a third party, the appraiser is not permitted to discuss the results, etc with the homeowner. Correspondence must be done with the management company directly and not with the appraiser.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

Gulf to Bay Appraisals serves Southern Pinellas County and Manatee County. Contact can be made with the company by phone at 727-867-9696 during normal working hours. Direct email at: marten@tampabay.rr.com

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