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How Your Home Is Appraised: An Interview with Mark Fernald of RVS South

By Mark Fernald

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

I own a local full service real estate appraisal company based in Orange County. I provide appraisals, reviews, quality control products and consulting to banks, lenders, real estate agents, attorneys, private parties. My coverage area includes Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties for appraisal products, and nationwide for review and quality control products. I am certified in California, Nevada and Colorado and have my Real Estate Broker's license in California. I possess my SRA (Senior Residential Appraiser) designation from the Appraisal Institute. I have been involved in all aspects of local and nationwide appraisal since 1982.

In most cases, who typically orders a home appraisal?

Anybody can order a home appraisal depending on the purpose. I complete appraisals for banks and other lenders for mortgage loan purposes, I complete estate and trust appraisals for private parties and attorneys, I complete appraisals for divorce situations and partnership dissolution, I work a lot with real estate agents on pre-listing and market value appraisals.

What types of appraisals would a homeowner order?

Typically a homeowner would order a market value appraisal if they were thinking about putting a home on the market or if they needed a valuation for estate, trust or tax appeals.

Can you outline the major steps in the appraisal process from start to finish?

Order placement, contact homeowner to set inspection appointment, inspection of house, inspection of neighborhood and comparable market data, write-up of report, delivery of report to client.

When you're inspecting a house, what are the basic areas you cover and some of the main things you're looking for?

I am typically looking at quality and condition of the home, type of improvements and extent of upgrades, how long ago any remodeling or upgrades were completed. I am also looking at the location/lot for beneficial/adverse influence: topography, views, proximity to busy streets or mixed-use properties (commercial, industrial properties), etc.

What does the inspection report include and when it is usually available?

The appraisal report typically is completed on a standard FNMA (Fannie Mae) form with addenda ranging from a sketch of the home, location and aerial maps, addenda commentary, photos of the subject exterior and interior and photos of the comparable market data used in the report. The whole process usually takes about a week to complete.

Is there anything that most homeowners or homebuyers don't understand about the appraisal process?

Two things: That there is a lot more time spent in the process and development of the report than just the time spent at the home for the inspection. That the appraiser is an unbiased third party that is hired to develop an estimate of value on a given property as of a certain date.

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