Frequently Asked Question

We do not recommend relying on Zillow, tax assessments, or any other online services as they are unable to consider differences in condition, quality, or sometimes even the correct size of a particular house. Because Alaska is a non-disclosure state which means the sale price of a house is not reported on the deed. Consequently, Zillow does not have access to actual sale prices for properties sold in Alaska. The information reported on Zillow is from public records which may or may not be correct. Borough and Municipality assessors are attempting to fairly distribute the tax burden across hundreds of thousands of properties, but they typically lack specific knowledge about subject condition and quality for any particular property. While online research is a good way to learn more about the generalities of homes in your neighborhood, in Alaska it is not an accurate way to determine the value of your specific home.

An appraiser provides a fair and credible determination of market value, and present their professional findings in appraisal reports. Real estate appraisers must abide by a certain code of ethics which includes giving an unbiased and objective appraisal. We are committed to following and being in compliance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (“USPAP”). Appraisers must take an USPAP refresher course once every two years to maintain their license and keep up to date with any changes. The purpose of USPAP is to “promote and maintain a high level of public trust in appraisal practice by establishing requirements for appraisers.” Therefore, appraisers cannot be influenced to hit a certain value as their objectiveness will have been compromised.

Real estate appraisers are licensed or certified to do appraisals by the State of Alaska. Each appraiser is required to meet extensive educational requirements, as well as, experience requirements with mentorship as dictated by the state board. Continual education classes and law change reviews are ongoing requirements.

An appraisal is a multi-step process. First, the appraiser collects, verifies, and analyzes the data pertaining both to the property and the market. The collection of data includes an “appraisal inspection”. Although visiting the property is the least time-consuming part of the appraisal process, it is one of the most important as it allows the appraiser to independently verify the data pertaining to the property. Next the appraiser will use the collected data to determine value by utilizing one or more of the following approaches: The Sales Comparison Approach uses similar sales or listings within the subject’s area to determine what the market is selling and buying for. Adjustments are made to the comparables whenever differences are found. These adjustments rely on the comparable data the appraisers research and their knowledge of the market area. The Cost Approach is developed by estimating how much it would cost to rebuild and replace the current structure with a structure made in a similar manner, then deducting depreciation from any source, and finally adding in the value of the land. This approach is more common with new construction builds but less reliable with older homes. The Income Approach is used for properties that generate income such as multi-unit properties and rental properties. This approach uses the income data to calculate an estimate of the opinion of value. Any combination of these approaches may be used in the appraisal report. The appraiser will perform an analysis of the market data to arrive at a range of possible values for the property. The final step is to reconcile the range of values into a single opinion of “market value”.

“The most probable price, as of a specified date, in cash, or in terms equivalent to cash, or in other precisely revealed terms, for which the specified property rights should sell after reasonable exposure in a competitive market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, with the buyer and seller each acting prudently, knowledgeably, and for self-interest, and assuming that neither is under undue duress.” - The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal 6th edition

Appraisers are frequently hired by multiple parties and for various purposes. Lenders need to know the market value of a property for a loan transaction to ensure they are not lending more than the property is worth. Attournies looking to protect their clients with the highest professional level of real estate analysis. Realtors who would like to consult on a complex property or

It depends on who ordered the appraisal. If a bank ordered the appraisal, the bank will provide a copy of the appraisal report to the homeowner. Per federal regulations, if the bank ordered the appraisal, Precision Valuations cannot talk to the homeowner about the appraisal report until the bank gives written permission. Even though it is typically the buyer that eventually pays for the report, the lender is the intended user. The buyer is entitled to a copy of the report (from the lender) but is not entitled to use the report for any other purpose without permission. If, on the other hand, you as the client engaged us directly, we will transmit the appraisal to you via email.

During the inspection, the appraiser visits the property being appraised, measures the house, and takes photos. This usually takes between 20-60 minutes depending on several factors including the availability of data, the size of the house, and the complexity of the property. The appraiser will measure the exterior of the house, make notes about the property, and take photos for the report. Once they have completed the exterior inspection, they go room by room to take notes of any upgrades or deferred maintenance and take photos of each room.

Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible, especially the attic, crawl space, and utility areas. On the outside, clean up any obstructions so the appraiser can be free to get an accurate measurement of exterior walls. We generally recommend repairing minor things like leaky faucets, missing trim, and any safety items (missing railing, non-egressable windows in bedrooms, etc). Once the appraiser has arrived, you do not need to accompany them along on the entire inspection, but can be helpful to be available to answer questions about your property. To simplify the appraisal process, it's beneficial to have these documents ready for the appraiser, if available:

  • A single-page list of any major home improvements and enhancements with the date of completion (for example, the date of the last kitchen remodel or if extra insulation was added to the house).
  • Sketch of the house
  • Home inspection reports or past appraisals.
  • Information on any written private easements, such as a shared driveway with a neighbor.
  • A list of planned improvements if the property is to be appraised "as complete".

It’s important to note that an appraiser is not an engineer. The point of an engineer inspection is to evaluate the structure of the house from bottom to rooftop. Commonly, an engineer’s inspection report will discuss the home’s major systems such as the electrical, heating, and plumbing systems; and the structural integrity of the house such as the attic, visible insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and other visible structures. While an appraiser is qualified to make observations pertaining to the value of the property, an engineer is qualified to inspect for building integrity.

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