This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

How to Find the Best Home Appraiser

Your home is likely your most valuable investment. But it's hard to know how much it's really worth without selling it.

Your tax assessment might give you some idea of your home's value, but the assessment is updated only every few years. What's more, California and other states put a limit on your assessment at a certain percentage increase per year, which means in a booming market your home could be worth much more than its assessed value.

In today's market, however, an assessment from a few years ago may be tens of thousands of dollars higher than the actual market value.

Getting an accurate sense of a home's value can be critical in certain situations: during a divorce, when settling an estate and when making retirement plans that rely on the equity tied up in your home. (Of course, it's also essential when you're actually buying or selling your house, but in that case the lender will hire the appraiser.)

Here's what you need to know to find a reliable appraiser.

Finding an Appraiser





"Appraising can be more of an art than a science," admits John Brenan, director of research and technical issues at The Appraisal Foundation , the Congress-approved arbiter of appraisal standards and appraiser qualifications. "The market sets the price, but what that price is likely to be is a matter of opinion."

That said, a good appraiser bases his or her opinion on a mix of experience and education, and delivers an appraisal that conforms to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices set by the Appraisal Foundation. These standards direct appraisers' conduct concerning conflicts of interest, unethical requests (such as appraising an item at a predetermined value) and disclosure of fees.

Start your search for an appraiser at the federal government's Appraisal Subcommittee Web site, which provides links to state government websites that list state-certified appraisers.

Once you've found a few promising appraisers, check to make sure their certifications are still valid. You can also search the national registry to see if they have been subject to disciplinary actions on federal transactions.

Choosing the Right One





Once you have a list of three or four appraisers who are in good standing, call them. Get a feel for how well they communicate, find out how much they charge and ask for references (and then follow up on them).

The price you'll pay depends on how much work is involved. For example, an appraisal that is based on existing information -- square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, road frontage, etc. -- is typically less expensive than one in which the appraiser remeasures everything. The size and location of your house also influence the price. In general, you can expect to pay between $300 and $400 for an appraisal, says Brenan.

Ultimately, you'll want to select the appraiser with whom you feel the most comfortable based on references, pricing and your rapport.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,106.70 +29.83 0.17%
S&P 500 2,000.02 +2.10 0.11%
NASDAQ 4,570.6370 +13.29 0.29%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs