What's It Worth To You? Understanding thet Appraisal Process

Everyone thinks their home looks like two million bucks, but in the world of banks and real estate agents, it takes a professional appraiser to prove it. Especially in the unique and ultra-competitive world of New York co-op and condo real estate, having someone with all the facts and figures at their fingertips can be invaluable. Whether you're selling property or buying, an appraiser can provide you with the information you need to make practical decisions about your home and finances.

Let Us Give Appraise

Most people's first appraisal experience comes when they apply for a loan to purchase or refinance a property. Banks insist on appraisals so they know they're not loaning more than what the property's worth.

"There are loan-to-value ratio requirements," says appraiser Peter Zachary of Peter L. Zachary & Associates in Brooklyn. "[Lenders] want to make sure that the loan they're extending is not above 75 percent of the property's value."

While banks are the ones responsible for hiring appraisers when it comes to loans, individual homeowners often hire out if they're looking to sell their property. In these cases, an appraiser can make sure you step into the market with an accurate price in hand. On average, a property's appraised price is usually concurrent with the list price, although independent Manhattan-based appraiser Lorna Leibowitz - who also works as a broker - advises her clients to add to the appraised value. "My feeling is, "˜let's leave room to negotiate,'" she says. "Everyone loves to feel they got a bargain. You don't want to have to come down on a price you've already accepted as your lowest possible amount."

If you're looking to buy property, you also might consider hiring an appraiser, especially if you're new to the area or perhaps do not have much experience buying real estate. Appraisers can also be called in to provide figures for property, divorce and estate settlements.


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