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The Home Appraisal Process: An Interview with Andrew Meltzer of A&F Appraisal Services of Florida, Inc.

By Andrew Meltzer

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

A&F Appraisals was founded in 2000 by Andrew Meltzer. Andrew is originally from New York and moved to Miami when he attended the University of Miami. He started off working as a trainee appraiser at another company and founded A&F Appraisals when he became a State Certified appraiser. At the height of the real estate boom, our company had as many as 12 appraisers on hand. When the real estate bubble burst, most appraisers found other lines of business. However, Andrew remained hopeful that business would increase again. We now have 2 state certified appraisers and one full time office manager. We work with all lenders.

What are the key steps in the appraisal process?

First we will visit the property for photos and measurements. This is key in finding comparable sales as 90% of the time, public records are inaccurate regarding square footage and room counts. Knowing a property's condition is crucial in finding comparables as some neighborhoods can have values that vary for updated vs non-updated homes. We then come back to the office, sketch out the home to obtain the gross living area and start typing the report. We search for recent and similar sales in the subject's market area on the MLS. Realtors are called to verify information on all comparables used. The report is typed, comps are given adjustments based on their superior/inferior/similar characteristics in comparison with the subject. A value is finally determined based on the adjusted sales included. The value is not only determined using a price per square foot basis as most real estate agents use. There are many elements which contribute value to a property other than its size.

How should one prepare for a home appraisal?

Make sure that the property is free of damages. It helps to have a list of updates in the past 15 years. If the homeowner has a survey on hand, this is helpful to the appraiser as well.

Is it necessary to stage their home beforehand, or will the appraiser help with that?

No staging is necessary. The appraiser is valuing the real estate, not the décor. It does help if the home is clean and well maintained. However the appraiser is valuing the property based on its upgrades (roof, windows, kitchen, flooring, baths, etc), gross living area (under air).

What home factors have the biggest influence in the price?

Upgraded kitchens and baths are huge. Having a pool, impact windows (in South Florida), and new roof also has a high impact on value. We understand that there is great pride in home ownership so many people will have long lists of every single update they have done and may be thinking that it helps value. Updates such as changing doorknobs, handles, window treatments, ceiling fans, painting, and crown moldings do help the overall appearance of the property but do necessary add value when it comes to the appraisal. In order for something to impact a home's value, the appraiser must find a recent sale of a home with a similar update. Then, using paired analysis, the appraiser can determine if this update impacts the sales price.

So for example, in taking two homes similar in size and other features but one has an updated kitchen and the other does not; if the home with the updated kitchen sold 20k higher, then it is evident to the appraiser that this has impacted its market value. Adjustments for upgrades are never given on a dollar for dollar basis, but instead are given based on the market's reaction in price to that upgrade.

Is an appraisal a one fee service, or is there more to the payment process?

Appraisals are a one fee service. The fee for a residential property can range from $275 up to $3000, depending on the difficultly of the home to appraise. The property is researched up front when placing the order so the client knows the exact fee that needs to be paid. All appraisals are to be paid prior to delivering to the customer. Most are paid at the door, however as long as they are paid within one day, that is fine also.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

Best way to reach us is by calling our office at 305-573-1577. Our office manager is happy to answer any questions and help schedule appointments. We can also be emailed at afappraisalservices@gmail.com.

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