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  • I just signed a mortgage loan application with my federally regulated financial institution. I was told that I needed an appraisal of my property and that I would have to pay for it. What is an appraisal?

    An appraisal is an opinion of the market value of your property that is developed by a state licensed real estate appraiser. Appraisers are legally required to comply with federal appraisal regulations called “Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice” or "USPAP." You can flip through a digital version of USPAP at:
  • Can I choose the appraiser?

    No. It is illegal for your mortgage lender to accept an appraisal that was ordered by a borrower. It is also illegal for a borrower to influence the appraiser selection process. By law, appraisers must be selected by an independent third party not associated with the loan process.
  • Can any appraiser be hired to appraise my home?

    No. Appraisals may only be accepted from state licensed appraisers whose credentials and work quality have been reviewed and approved by your financial institution. The process of approving a new appraiser for inclusion on a lender's panel is lengthy and requires a review of his or her work by an independent expert as well as authorization by the bank or credit union's Executive Loan Committee.
  • Who will choose the appraiser?

    Sometimes the independent third party is an Appraisal Management Company or “AMC.” ACR, Inc. is the AMC for your mortgage lender. ACR is an acronym for "Appraisal Compliance Review."
  • Who is ACR?

    ACR is a regional AMC in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. ACR provides appraisal management services for community banks and credit unions throughout Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. ACR is owned by a Wisconsin and Michigan Certified Residential Appraiser and has been in business since 2006.
  • What does an appraisal management company do?

    Accepts the appraisal order from the lender and verifies property information; selects an appraiser based on geographic competence and equitable distribution of assignments; places the assignment with an appraiser approved by your financial institution and monitors assignment progress; takes delivery of the appraisal report; audits the appraisal, supervises corrections, and resolves underwriting questions; delivers the appraisal to the client in compliance with lending regulations; pays the appraiser and issues tax documents; and securely stores the appraisal report for five years.
  • So the AMC will send an appraiser to my property?

    To be specific, ACR will send an appraisal order to an appraiser approved by your specific financial institution. The appraiser must be competent to appraise in your market area and hold an appropriate state license or certification. Your lender may also require the appraiser to carry insurance. If the appraiser is able to meet the required deadlines for your loan, he or she will contact you to make an appointment for an inspection. ACR appraisers are required to contact property owners within three business days of accepting the order. After three days, ACR’s order processing system will remind the appraiser to give you a call or send you an email. In some cases the appraisal will be assigned to a different appraiser to make sure your loan deadlines are met.
  • How long will the inspection take? Do I need to be present?

    It will vary by appraiser and the method in which they record their data as well as what type of home you have. Some appointments seem very short while others may take an hour or more, especially if your home is larger or complex. You do not need to be present. If the appraisal is being done for a purchase transaction, the real estate agent will generally arrange for the appraiser’s access. If you are purchasing a new home, many times the appraisal inspection is coordinated with a building inspection. If you are refinancing, your presence during the inspection will allow the appraiser to ask questions about updates and features in your home.
  • What should I do to get ready for the inspection?

    Many borrowers worry about making sure their home is perfectly tidy before an appraisal inspection. Please remember that appraisers are not concerned about housekeeping and will not “reduce” the value of your home because you didn’t have time to clean. Just be sure that the appraiser can access all areas where clutter might collect, such as the basement or attic. If available, you can provide the appraiser with a survey of the property; a list of personal property to be sold with the house if applicable; a copy of the original plans & specifications when you built the home; the date and purchase price you paid when you purchased the property; a list of recent improvements and their costs; as well as any other information you feel may be pertinent.
  • Why is the appraiser taking pictures of the inside of my home?

    Photos of the kitchen, all bathrooms and main living areas are required by Fannie Mae; however, the appraiser may take more photos to document the condition and features of your home. Photos are also required of physical deterioration that might affect value or marketability.
  • Will anyone else see photos of the interior of my home?

    Appraisers are bound by a Rule in USPAP to keep all aspects of the appraisal confidential and are only allowed to release the appraisal to the client, most often a financial institution. Photos of your home will only be viewed by those associated with the lending process. An appraisal is a private document and will never be transmitted to a municipal assessor or any other type of governmental agency.
  • Why can’t the appraiser tell me how much my property is worth before he or she leaves?

    The appraiser will research and analyze sales of similar properties and perform other tasks before developing a value conclusion. An appraiser cannot provide an opinion of value, either verbally or in writing, without complying with the requirements of USPAP. Therefore, even a guess about the value of your home, without completing the appropriate research and analyses, would be a violation of a state law.
  • How long after the inspection before the appraisal is ready?

    It usually depends on whether mortgage interest rates are high or low. When rates are very low, appraisers may be inundated with appraisal assignments. A normal turnaround time is about two weeks after the inspection, but when mortgage rates are low it can be a week or two longer.
  • Where does an appraiser get real estate market information to estimate my home’s market value?

    The most significant source of information utilized in the appraisal analysis comes from Multiple Listing Service (MLS). MLS can generate a list of homes that have recently sold, with specific details and photos, which the appraiser will confirm before incorporating into your appraisal report. The appraiser may also analyze data derived from other appraisal assignments or office files. USPAP requires that an appraiser verify all information used in the appraisal report. Thanks to the internet, appraisers may now view enormous amounts of data that was not available even a few years ago.
  • What is a "URAR?"

    URAR stands for Uniform Residential Appraisal Report. The URAR is a standardized form developed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to report the results of appraisals of single-unit residential properties. It is important to remember that there are many types of appraisal forms and reports. Your appraiser is required to submit the results of the appraisal on a form approved for the loan and property type. These are technical forms with abbreviations and terms that are not easily understood by non-appraisers. If you have questions about the appraisal report, please check with your lender who can probably answer most of your questions.
  • Why didn’t the appraiser give me credit for my finished basement?

    When reviewing your appraisal you might think that the appraiser forgot to consider or include your basement’s contributory value. Fannie Mae requires that the basement square footage be calculated separately from the above-grade living area. If ANY part of the home’s level is below grade, the entire level is considered below grade. Even a walkout basement with full size windows is considered below grade living area. The appraiser will make an adjustment in the sales grid, if warranted, to reflect the added value of your finished basement.
  • After completing the report, what assurance do I have that the value indicated is accurate?

    An appraisal is an opinion of value, as of the date of inspection, provided by a licensed expert who is familiar with the real estate market in your area. Because it is an opinion rather than a scientific result, it is not uncommon for there to be as much as 20% deviation, higher or lower, between value conclusions in two appraisals of the same property. A value conclusion is derived from market data. When there are few recent sales of similar properties the appraiser must analyze the limited available information to form an opinion of the value of your home. If your home is even slightly unique – larger site, bigger home, special amenities - the process becomes more difficult because there aren’t as many sales of homes with those features.
  • What happens if I disagree with the appraiser’s opinion of value?

    Remember that the value in an appraisal is an appraiser’s opinion, derived from research and analysis of available market data. It is against the law for an appraiser to accept an assignment that is contingent on meeting a certain value, direction in value, or a minimum or maximum value. If it appears there are problems with the report that may impact the value, your lender may request that a qualified appraisal reviewer take a look at your appraisal. If it appears that the appraisal meets all mortgage underwriting and appraisal requirements, federal lending laws prohibit “shopping” for a different value from another appraiser.
  • Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?

    No. The appraiser is not a home inspector. A home inspection is an analysis of a home's structure and systems. A home inspection will determine whether building components are performing properly, and will reveal items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. An appraiser is looking at the condition, quality, layout, and features of your home which contribute to your property’s market value. An appraiser will consider physical depreciation as well as functional and external obsolescence which are intangible factors that affect value.
  • If the value conclusion in my appraisal report is higher than my tax assessment, will my taxes go up?

    Your home appraisal will not be released to the assessor or anyone other than your mortgage lender. The appraisal will only be used for loan purposes.
  • Am I entitled to a copy of the appraisal?

    Yes. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, your mortgage lender must provide you with a copy upon your written request. Most lenders automatically provide a copy to the borrower. If you find a significant error in your appraisal report, you should contact your lender.
  • Who actually owns the appraisal report?

    Even though the borrower pays for the appraisal, your mortgage lender is the appraiser’s client and is the owner of the appraisal report. The appraiser is bound by state law to refrain from discussing the appraisal with anyone except his or her client. ACR is also not able to discuss the appraisal with anyone other than the client due to confidentiality issues.