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How Your Home is Appraised: An Interview with John Hamameh of Class Appraisal

By John Hamameh

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

We are a nationally registered Appraisal Management Company ("AMC") located in Birmingham, Michigan. Class Appraisal is registered as an AMC and authorized to procure Appraisals in all 50 states.

We pride ourselves on delivering top quality valuation services, in a timely manner, with outstanding customer service. One of our main focuses is on compliance. I have been brought on to serve as Class Appraisal's Chief Compliance Attorney. Class Appraisal is one of the select national AMC's to have a dedicated Attorney on staff.

In most cases, who typically orders a home appraisal?

In most cases, our clients are the one ordering the home appraisal on behalf of their client or borrower. Typically speaking, our clients include mortgage brokers, lenders, banks, and credit unions.

What types of appraisals would a homeowner order?

The type of appraisal would depend on the purpose of the appraisal and the type of loan the homeowner is attempting to obtain.

For example some factors to consider when ordering an appraisal is whether it is a single family home, condo, or investment property. You must also take into consideration whether it is conventional funding or FHA funding, among other things.

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

The first major step in the appraisal process is actually placing the order. Once the order is placed, we will assess the type of appraisal ordered and assign the order to a competent appraiser in the specific geographic area.

Once the appraiser accepts the assignment, he/she will then contact either the client or their borrower to set up a date for the inspection to take place. The appraiser will complete the inspection of the property on the date that was agreed upon.

After completion of the inspection, the appraiser will compile all their information into the actual appraisal report. The completed report will be uploaded to our secure platform where the client has the ability to access the report. In most situations this will be the end of the process. In certain other situations there may be revisions needed or a rebuttal initiated.

A rebuttal may be initiated if the client feels that the appraiser did not utilize the best available comparable properties in his/her report. The client can forward over some comparables they feel are superior, we will forward that information to the appraiser for their consideration. The appraiser will either agree or disagree with the client's additional information and finalize the report.

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

When an appraiser is inspecting a home, they are typically looking for any sort of deferred maintenance, improvements/updates, mechanical system functionality, functional obsolescence such as easements and diverse external influences, and overall marketability of the property.

Different types of appraisal may call for certain variations in the inspection. For example, one specific variation is that FHA appraisals require an attic inspection.

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

Generally speaking, an inspection report will include all the information we discussed in the previous question, along with a sketch of the property, photos of the subject property, as well as information and photos of the comparable properties. The report will translate all this information into an ultimate opinion of value.

The completed report is typically available within 2-3 days after the inspection takes place.

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

I think the most common question or complaint that we run into is the issues with the homeowner or buyer thinking that a report is faulty or invalid if it is not at the value they think it should be. The most important thing to note about an appraisal is that it is an "opinion" of value. Just because the homeowner or homebuyer does not share the appraiser's opinion, does not automatically mean it is not a valid and reliable report. Appraisers are trained to come up with their opinion and of course there is potential for reasonable minds to share different opinions.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

People can always visit our website at www.classappraisal.com, where we have a plethora of resources for anyone in the mortgage industry to benefit from. We can also be reached by phone at 248-220-2360 or email at info@classappraisal.com.

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