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  • Writer's pictureAlbert Chanese

Choosing the Right Real Estate Appraiser

When it comes to finding a real estate appraiser, it can be daunting to know what to look for. Even if you don't have a lot of experience in working with properties or property appraisals, you can make sure you're choosing the right person for the job by knowing important qualifications and traits of a good appraiser.

Determine what you need an appraisal for.

There are a number of reasons to need a real estate appraiser. Financing is one of the most obvious, however, you may want an appraisal before listing your property for sale, or for estate planning or to settle an estate. Appraisals are done for eminent domain, divorce, partnership disputes. All tasks are common in the real estate world but each one is used for a different purpose. Where a CMA done by real estate agents is common, they are not always impartial. Appraisers give an unbiased opinion of value. They are not after a listing. Appraisals cannot be conducted by anyone and must be completed by trained individuals.

Make sure they are licensed or certified.

Always make sure a property appraiser is licensed or certified by the state to perform real estate appraisals. While state licensing and/or certification isn't always an indication of quality, it ensures that an individual has met certain standards and is authorized to perform property appraisals. In New Jersey, all real estate appraisals are required to be done by a certified residential or commercial appraiser.

At the state level, there are two types of property appraisal certification: Certified Residential and Certified General. The State-Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser would be the minimum license to consider. If it's a typical residential property you want appraised, you will want a State-Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser, as a minimum qualification. A State Certified General Appraiser can value all types of real estate, from residential homes to large industrial and commercial properties.

Don't be afraid to ask an appraiser for a copy of his or her license. Once you get a copy of the license, it's a good idea to check with the government agency which issued the document to ensure the license is active and in good standing. Furthermore, you can view the U.S. National Registry at and verify whether the appraiser is registered and eligible to perform appraisals.

In New Jersey, all real estate appraisals are req

uired to be done by a certified residential or commercial appraiser.

Ask about their professional designations or memberships.

Many excellent real estate appraisers carry a professional designation. The most widely known industry designations are the Senior Residential Appraiser (SRA) and the Member Appraisal Institute (MAI). These designations are issued by the Appraisal Institute, and demonstrate an appraiser's commitment to continuing education and ethical standards.

Inquire about their experience.

Ask what their experience is working on the property and neighborhood you are looking to get appraised. Appraisers who do a lot of their work or live in a particular area often have a deep knowledge of property values in that area. Additionally, they are more likely to know how "neighborhood variables" such as school districts and fire departments affect the property values in the area.

Although years of experience does not necessarily indicate quality, there are certain benchmarks quality appraisers will have met. It usually takes about five years to get a good working knowledge and competency.

Ask around for references.

If you find an appraiser through their web site, you might not have much information about them. It can be useful to crowd source people in the industry. Ask a lender, real estate agent, attorney, or accountant for an appraiser they have used in the past. You'll still need to inquire further into their qualifications, but finding someone who has experience with the appraiser is a good start.

At New Jersey Realty Advisory Group, our appraisers are either certified residential or certified general real estate appraiser and hold the SRA or MAI designations. We have over 40 years’ experience valuing real estate here in New Jersey.

Call us at: 732-853-0271

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