Why hire an appraiser?

Why appraise?


There is a myriad of reasons that someone would need an appraisal, from mortgage financing, to estate planning, relocation, litigation, among others. This piece relates to work engaged directly by a private client specific to that client’s needs. A testimonial is included as it shows how this type of work can be a direct benefit to the client, plus it was such a nice one that it bared sharing.


An appraisal seeks to answer the question the client has, and the report that is received is the communication of that process. Clients do not see, unless it is explained, the thought process that goes into developing the appraisal. Because of that, the reporting process is critical. Reporting needs to communicate enough about the process and the property to help the client understand how the appraiser arrived at their opinion. It should not require the client to take a “leap of faith” to understand how the appraiser ended up where they did. After all, we are hired to answer a specific question so that our clients can make an informed decision.


As much of my work is for private individuals who have various needs, I want to make sure that I explain what I have done, and what the problems particular to the appraisal at hand are. Some problems are more complex and require more explanation. Some are more straight-forward, but I still want to be sure that my client understands what I did and why I did it. Clients do appreciate the explanation, whether or not they appreciate the answer. Even if they do not like the answer, there should be enough information offered that they can understand the rationale behind it.


On private assignments I will often ask my clients whether the report was helpful, and sometimes ask for testimonials for my website so that other potential clients can see how an appraisal has benefitted them. I recently completed a very complex assignment where explanation was greater than typical due to the uniqueness of the situation and problem to be solved. My client wrote the following for my testimonial page:


Rachel Massey was actually recommended to us by another appraiser in the Ann Arbor area who could not fit us into his schedule. Given that she is a competitor, I was surprised when he freely admitted that "Rachel is the best around," and now I know why.  Indeed, we were very impressed with Rachel Massey's services! Our market appraisal was a challenging one in that we were purchasing a lake property which included a very old, tiny cottage in pretty rough shape.  Because houses do not go up for sale very often on this particular lake, finding comparative values was difficult, especially given the condition of the house itself. However, Rachel proved to be extremely knowledgeable about how to accurately assess lake properties. In the end, she provided us with an extensive, detailed report that far exceeded our expectations. It gave us all the data we needed to be able to offer a fair, market-based price for such a unique property. My husband and I would wholeheartedly recommend Rachel Massey's services to anyone who is in the process of buying or selling a home!


Now of course if there was an issue or disagreement with the analysis, I want to hear it as well (but not on my website) and be offered a chance to provide further explanation if something was not clear. It helps me better understand where I can improve the communication process going forward.


If you have a question that requires a thoughtful, independent answer, please consider hiring a professional appraiser to help. Interview the appraiser about their processes, and about how they communicate the report. Interview them about their knowledge of a specific problem that is to be solved and ask for recommendations if at all in doubt.  An independent appraisal specific to the problem that you need solved is an invaluable tool that should not be overlooked.