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When determining the square footage of a home many clients find that resources such as Zillow and public records could have pretty inaccurate information. Zillow for example can be fairly inaccurate because it collects information from unverified resources such as home owners, public records, and realtors. Almost anyone can change a home’s square footage on sites such as this without any proof of measurements.


One would think that measuring the square footage of a home would be pretty straight-forward. Just break out the trusty measuring tape right? Not quite. Some say, coming up with a square footage is kind of like the old joke about the accountant who aces the interview question of how much is 1+ 1 by answering "What would you like it to be?" And, unfortunately, the square footage that is calculated very much depends upon who is doing the measuring and for what purpose.


Real estate appraisers measure the shell of the home to get what they call Gross living area or GLA. 
Depending in the home type different procedures are used. For a condo they have no choice but to start with the internal measurements - from the inside of the walls - but they might add an additional 6 inches for the wall thickness. For a single family home they usually use the outside dimensions, so the thickness of the exterior walls would be included. No matter the home type, they only count the space that you can actually live in.


Here’s a quick list of the most commonly mistaken areas of the home included in the GLA:

  • Garage
  • Basement
  • Pool house
  • Patio(whether screened in or not)
  • Attic


The most honest and logical measurement is the one that appraisers use. Appraisers will usually have the most unbiased opinion in both property value and square footage. Thus, they would be your best resort. Appraisals By Michael is committed to providing a service of excellence. As  Georgia Real Estate Appraisers (AGREA) members are committed to adhering to strict industry standards and a professional code of ethics, you can be confident that an appraisal done with us is done with integrity and accuracy. Call us today for more information or to schedule your home's appraisal.  

To get in touch with an appraiser in your area or for more information click on one of the areas below closest to you:

Find an appraiser in your area:
Alpharetta|Brookhaven|Buckhead|Cobb
County
|Dekalb County|Dunwoody|Fulton County|Gwinnett County|Marietta|Sandy Springs




Posted by on March 9th, 2017 11:29 AMLeave a Comment

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March 9th, 2017 10:51 AM

Which kitchen renovations can increase my home’s value?


One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Appraisals by Michael is “how much value does upgrading my kitchen and bathroom add to my home?” If you are selling your home, you may want to consider renovations such as this. Some may think that renovating a home that you are about to sell is a waste of time, energy and money. Think again, making updates to your kitchen can increase marketability and add thousands to your home’s value.  

Now, we understand that a complete kitchen remodeling may not be in the budget. But it may not be necessary. Take the example from the video below, changing your appliances may be the upgrade your kitchen needs to be elevated to the next level. Cabinets may be secondary:

 

 



Performing small, low cost renovations to your kitchen such as backsplash, paint and hardware changes are starting points. However, a kitchen is only as good as the appliances in it. Studies have shown that updated appliances can increase your home’s value by thousands. Upgrading your appliance doesn’t mean you have to fork out $10k on a new commercial-grade range or a sub-zero french door refrigerator. Upgrading your kitchen for the purpose of selling your home is to give the prospective home buyers the quality, functionality, and aesthetics they are looking for without breaking the bank.

Keep in mind that when home buyers see upgraded appliances, they see one less thing they have to do upon buying. Home owners want less work and more bang for their buck.

Appraisals By Michael can assist you with all your appraisal needs; Pre-listing, Divorce, Tax Assessments, etc. Get in touch with us today to answer any question and for a free quote. 


Find an appraiser in your area:
Alpharetta|Brookhaven|Buckhead|Cobb
County
|Dekalb County|Dunwoody|Fulton County|Gwinnett County|Marietta|Sandy Springs

 


February 28th, 2017 2:23 PM

 

Whether you are a home seller or looking to buy, a low home appraisal could cost your deal to fall through.

 


Here’s a common scenario: You list your home for $350.000, you receive an offer of $275.000, you end up setting at a price of $300.000. An appraisal is done before closing and it comes in at $255.000.  That’s $20.000 less than what the seller offered and $95.000 less than what you expected to receive. Not to mention that the $255.000 appraisal price is the maximum amount of which the lender is willing to lend.


Now, $35.000 is hanging in the balance. Does the seller pay the difference in cash? That would mean they have the extra cash laying around and are willing to pay above the appraised value of the home (not likely). And after you’ve already come down on the price in negotiation with the seller, you may not be willing to come down again so drastically.

Needless to say, the deal is shot and its back to the drawing board for you both.


Here are a few steps that could save you from the aforementioned scenario as a buyer or seller:

  1. If you are a buyer, have your lender hire an appraisal from your county or neighborhood. An appraisal familiar with your area and knowing your area well could mean life or death to your deal.

  2. Make sure the appraiser is qualified. Your appraiser should be certified by the state’s national board of real estate appraisers. An appraiser who belongs to a professional organization such as the Association of Georgia Real Estate Appraisers (AGREA).

  3.  Provide any information regarding your home, the neighborhood, and any recent comps you know of. This information won’t promise to change your appraisal value but it could be welcomed by your appraiser. The more information, the better.

  4. As a seller, consider obtaining a pre-listing appraisal before you even list your home.

  5. A pre-listing appraisal will provide you with a much more realistic market value and could save you from wasted time, energy and money in the future.

Low appraisals are typically seen during a declining housing market because of the lack of comparable homes in the area. Not having “comps” to compare your home to makes it difficult to determine the most accurate true market value. When the market is slow, good comps age fast, and with a rise in foreclosures, can result in appraisers have a hard time justifying the price you set.

To get in touch with an appraiser in your area or for more information click on one of the areas below closest to you:

Alpharetta|Brookhaven|Buckhead|Cobb
County
|Dekalb County|Dunwoody|Fulton County|Gwinnett County|Marietta|Sandy Springs


Getting an appraisal

 


How To (Financially) Prepare To Purchase Your First Home:

A complete step by step debt demolishing method

 

Buying your first home can be one of the most exciting milestones one can reach in life. But unfortunately, many people who believe that they are ready to be home owners find themselves faced with the challenges of being able to afford it and not having enough cash saved up for the down payment. 

Although getting out of debt and saving up for a down payment may take time, dedication and a whole lot of self- control, doing it this way can very well save you from making the mistake of jumping into a home you weren’t financially ready to purchase.




Mentally, we all know we shouldn
’t spend more than we earn. It’s one of the common sense “rules” that we try to live by, but maybe let slip a little too often. These slip ups may have caused us to fall in a pit of debt that we can’t seem to find a way out of. It’s time to move forward and take the necessary steps to reduce your debt.

We’re going to first change how you manage your money, making it easier to save money for a down payment on a home

Here are some tips and advice that can put you in the best position to be a home owner.

 

Where Does Your Money Go?

Have you ever heard of the “Debt Snowball”? Create a list of all the places your money goes every month; including rent, credit cards, utilities, food, car payments, gas, insurance, charity, Starbucks, etc.

Then, split the list into two, separate lists.

The first list includes items that you’ll always have to pay (e.g. utilities). The second list includes debts you can pay off like your Sears credit card. That goes on the second list.

For the second list, reorganize the order of the items by largest account balance (Debt Snowball).

The Snowball method will help you to rapidly reduce the number of debts you owe.



First, make the minimum payment for every bill.

Then, make an extra payment for the one item that is on the top of your list.
Repeat monthly until the item on the top of your list is paid in full.

After you’ve paid off the first item, take the money you were using to pay if off and now apply it to the second item on the list. Knock off each #1 item every month until all balances are paid off in full.

Image the encouragement you’ll receive once you start knocking off those payments each month!

 

Cut Your Expenses

So, if you are already in debt, how can you expect to pay anything extra to the bill at the top or your list? Just like a well-crafted movie: clever editing. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, try to spend $5 fewer dollars.

 

Other Ways To Cut Your Expenses:

Get Rid Of Unused Subscriptions!  We all have good intentions to fully use that gym membership but if you aren’t using the gym, there is no reason to keep paying for it. Take up running or walking (free) or buy some used free weights on Craigslist (cheap).

You get the idea. Whatever you can cut out of your weekly spending, you can add to the payment to the top item on your Snowball or Avalanche list.

 


Create An Emergency Fund

Set aside some money you save from cutting your expenses and stash it into a special savings account that is created just for this purpose. That way when tough times arrive, you’ll be ready. The emergency fund can be used instead of pulling out your credit card.

 

Set Incremental Goals (And Reward Yourself For Reaching Them)

Give yourself incremental milestones ($500, $1000, $1500, etc.) and reward yourself with something fun. If this reward costs money, then set aside a little cash each month to save for this very purpose. There is no sense adding to your debt due to your celebration of reducing it. Keep the reward under $100. 

 

Being prepared financially to purchase a home isn’t something we hear about often but can be the best advice you’ve heard in a long time. Buying your first home does not have to be a fairy tale, but a dream worth dreaming. It just may take dedication and self-control to make it happen. 


Find an appraiser in your area:
Alpharetta|Brookhaven|Buckhead|Cobb
County
|Dekalb County|Dunwoody|Fulton County|Gwinnett County|Marietta|Sandy Springs


February 10th, 2017 2:38 PM

5 tips To Help Sell Your Home Faster

 

There’s nothing worse than having your home sit on the market for months with no sure answers for why. Here are our top 5 tips to help you sell your home faster:


 

1.       1. Make Sure The Price Is Right.

Your house could be the prettiest home on the block but if it’s not competitively priced it may be the prettiest house siting on the markets for months! The number one reason an otherwise, attractive home stays on the market forever is price. Why? Because home buyers tend to not make offers on them. Why don’t they make offers on them? Because no one wants to be considered a “lowballer”. Making a substantially low offer on someone’s home can be insulting. Home buyers might also assume that the seller must have turned down lower prices since the home has been listed and the buyer may not be confident that their offer would be accepted. Knowing the true value of your home is so important when selling. Getting an appraisal should be the first step on your list of to-dos when deciding to sell.

 



  
2. Make It Look Nice.

Although pricing your home correctly is important, if your home looks bad, the price becomes a secondary factor. Curb appeal should be your first project when making updates to your home. Cut your grass, clean up the trash or toys the kids leave in the yard. Paint, add some window boxes. These small, inexpensive changes to the outside of your home can pique the interest of sellers to want to at least see the inside.

I know you hear all the time; the most important rooms in the house are the bathrooms and kitchen when it comes to selling your home. And that statement could be truer. If you come up with a renovation budget and are trying to figure out what part of the house to invest the money in, choose these two rooms. Many studies have shown that an updated kitchen and bathroom can be the biggest selling point in your home, above even the square footage.




       
3. Market Your Home.

Marketing your home for sale doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Nowadays, there are so many different ways to reach home buyers in the market for a home.

“For Sale” Signs

You can purchase these at your local home improvement store for a few dollars. Many home buyers ride around in neighborhoods they are interested in living in to see if there are any homes for sale that they may want to view.

Home Listing Ad

You know your home better than anyone. What you love about your home may be what others will too. Get creative and brag a little. Make sure to add in critical features buyers look for such as the number of bathrooms, re-modeled kitchen, school district etc.

Pictures

If listing your home online, you cannot skip this step. Adding pictures of your home is crucial.  When taking pictures of the outside of your home, make sure to remove, trash cans, clutter and parked cars out of the driveway. The same applies to the inside. Remember, less is more when it comes to your furniture and belongings. Too much clutter can turn off a buyer and distract them from your home itself.

 

4.     
 
4. Home Inspection

Real estate contracts give the home buyer the right to hire an inspector to inspect the property. Inspectors are going to inspect the plumbing system, the roof, electrical and heating etc. The home buyer is then responsible to repair any problems found.

The buyer’s home inspection is usually the last thing on the list to do. Once the inspection is complete the buyer makes an application to the mortgage lender. To insure a smooth process in the end, you may want to consider having your own home inspection done so you can fix whatever problems before they’re found later.

 

5.      

  
5. Consider Any Offer and Negotiate

When a buyer makes an offer, consider it. However, carefully look through (with a real estate lawyer if possible) the contract’s terms and conditions. You may find too many contingencies in the contract that cause the deal to fall through. Many contingencies favor the buyer and if not read carefully and understood, can result in the home seller finding themselves in a bind.





To get in touch with an appraiser in your area or for more information click on one of the areas below closest to you:


Alpharetta|Brookhaven|Buckhead|Cobb
County
|Dekalb County|Dunwoody|Fulton County|Gwinnett County|Marietta|Sandy Springs



Posted by on February 10th, 2017 2:38 PMLeave a Comment

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When determining the square footage of a home many clients find that resources such as Zillow and public records could have pretty inaccurate information. Zillow for example can be fairly inaccurate because it collects information from unverified resources such as home owners, public records, and realtors. Almost anyone can change a home’s square footage on sites such as this without any proof of measurements.


One would think that measuring the square footage of a home would be pretty straight-forward. Just break out the trusty measuring tape right? Not quite. Some say, coming up with a square footage is kind of like the old joke about the accountant who aces the interview question of how much is 1+ 1 by answering "What would you like it to be?" And, unfortunately, the square footage that is calculated very much depends upon who is doing the measuring and for what purpose.


Real estate appraisers measure the shell of the home to get what they call Gross living area or GLA. 
Depending in the home type different procedures are used. For a condo they have no choice but to start with the internal measurements - from the inside of the walls - but they might add an additional 6 inches for the wall thickness. For a single family home they usually use the outside dimensions, so the thickness of the exterior walls would be included. No matter the home type, they only count the space that you can actually live in.


Here’s a quick list of the most commonly mistaken areas of the home included in the GLA:

  • Garage
  • Basement
  • Pool house
  • Patio(whether screened in or not)
  • Attic


The most honest and logical measurement is the one that appraisers use. Appraisers will usually have the most unbiased opinion in both property value and square footage. Thus, they would be your best resort. Appraisals By Michael is committed to providing a service of excellence. As  Georgia Real Estate Appraisers (AGREA) members are committed to adhering to strict industry standards and a professional code of ethics, you can be confident that an appraisal done with us is done with integrity and accuracy. Call us today for more information or to schedule your home's appraisal.  

To get in touch with an appraiser in your area or for more information click on one of the areas below closest to you:

Alpharetta|Brookhaven|Buckhead|Cobb
County
|Dekalb County|Dunwoody|Fulton County|Gwinnett County|Marietta|Sandy Springs


 


Posted by on January 25th, 2017 3:59 PMLeave a Comment

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In a contested divorce, other than the fight over who gets the children, deciding who gets the marital property can be a heated debate.  In most cases, neither party want to give up their rights to the home. Rightfully so, it’s the home they’ve sometimes lived in for years and are emotionally and financially invested. Usually the decision can boil down to selling it and splitting the profit or allowing one party to keep it. Whether you and your spouse have reached a divorce settlement or the judge has ordered you all to divide assets, knowing the true value of your home and having the right certified appraiser on your side is vital.

 

Is an appraisal necessary?

The only way to know the true value of your home, is to get an appraisal from a certified appraiser. Establishing value for your home is key to insure you are well equipped when filing a divorce. A common misconception people seem to have when deciding whether or not to get their home appraised is that if an appraisal has been done on their home at one point or another, it is still valid. Most state courts require a recent appraisal done by a certified real estate appraiser when determining the market value of the home. If you’ve gotten an appraisal in the last 3 months, there is a good chance the value of your home has changed. With a fluctuating housing market, a house appraised at $150k 4 months ago may be worth thousands more today. Not to mention if any renovations or upgrades have been done following the appraisal.

Our appraisers are trained to analyze your home inside and out. They begin with assessing your home, noting square footage and any upgrades done (most importantly to your kitchen and bathrooms). They then pull homes in your neighborhood that have sold in the last year. Paying close attention to those who have sold in the last 90 days. If your home has features that the others do not have, the appraiser adds to your home’s value. The reverse applies if your home does not have features that the others do, value is then deducted from your home.

Do I need a separate appraiser from my spouse?

In most divorce cases spouses usually want their own separate appraiser.  If things are cordial between the two spouses, they may agree with going with one appraiser and sharing the cost. In a situation of having two different appraisers and two different values, the court might settle on a mid-point in-between the two.

 

At Appraisals by Michael, we’ve worked with attorneys in Georgia on delicate matters such as divorce for over 15 years. We assemble well-supported appraisal reports for court hearings on an as-needed basis. Judges rely on our expertise when determining the value of the marital home. A certified appraiser should be ready and willing to appear in court or mediation on your behalf to verify and back up the value he/she concluded. Contact us for more information or to schedule your appraisal today!


To get in touch with an appraiser in your area or for more information click on one of the areas below closest to you:

Alpharetta|Brookhaven|Buckhead|Cobb
County
|Dekalb County|Dunwoody|Fulton County|Gwinnett County|Marietta|Sandy Springs




Prior to jumping the broom and saying “I do,” some couples decide to have a contract set in place that protects themselves and their assets. Though normally associated with the wealthy, these documents are now reaching couples across the financial latter establishing a more precautionary future. In order to prevent an unfair or unenforceable agreement, follow these 4 steps when constructing a contract with your attorney (which, by the way, you both need separately.) 

1. Negotiate Terms 
If your partner asks you to sign a prenup, keep in mind that this is not a “take it or leave it” type of situation. You have the right to make changes and ask for compromises so that it reflects the interests of both parties.

2. Ask Questions
Raising questions is an indication that a person has read the document, which prevents any uncertainty about the contract. It’s best to be extremely transparent about the terms of the clause. This understanding, in turn, promotes positivity within the marriage.

3. Have Your Valuables Appraised
As stated, a prenup is most commonly designed to protect the spouse with greater assets from losing an unfair part of wealth in the event of a divorce. Therefore, disclosing real estate and any other valuable items when meeting with your attorney will assist in preserving what’s actually yours.

4. Read The Contract Carefully
We’re sure you’ve heard that a person should never sign a document without properly reading it over. One may end up agreeing to things they dislike, or even fail to realize what they could potentially be giving up. 


Posted in:General
Posted by Appraisal Team 1 on March 14th, 2016 1:37 PMLeave a Comment

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Who doesn’t love a good renovation project? Regardless of the style of your home, many people itch to make changes. Often times, people do so without reflecting on the possible affects these changes will have on their home's value. While some remodeling increases value, not all renovation is for the best. We looked into the likely effects of remodeling your home.

 


Kitchen remodeling

Even in the most classic homes could benefit from a modern kitchen. Home buyers like to see up-to-date appliances in this specific part of the home. Keeping your kitchen current will most likely increase your home’s value exceptionally, and you will earn back the money spent on remodeling. Keep it simple, don’t indulge in a luxury kitchen model. However, a few changes can go a long way.


Bathroom remodeling

As with kitchen remodeling, bathroom changes help your home’s value as well. Adding more modernized pieces to your bathroom is a subtle way to keep your home both current and timeless.


Lavish improvements

While you may truly feel like marble floors and chandeliers are what’s best for your home, these type of projects only end up beneficial for already-extravagant homes. Adding multi-million dollar features to a small home will probably not be well-received by home buyers.

 

Swimming pool

It may seem like a great idea at the time, but when it comes time to sell you might run into some apprehension from potential buyers. Not everyone wants the hassle of maintaining a pool year round, and it can be a safety hazard for young children.

 

Outdoor renovations

First impressions speak volumes, not only to the homebuyer but to the overall atmosphere of the neighborhood. Sprucing up the exterior of your home can go a long way. Increase the value of both your home and possibly even your neighbor’s home with just a few adjustments to the outside of your house. 




 


Posted in:Remodeling and tagged: appraisalremodeling
Posted by on March 11th, 2016 10:23 AMLeave a Comment

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March 7th, 2016 11:18 AM

In order for an appraisal to remain accurate, it must efficiently reflect the current market. Whenever the appraisal is desired for an accurate point of reference, it must be able to show the present state of the market. While there is not an exact expiration date on appraisals, many lenders will only accept an appraisal report that is about 60-90 days old. After that, there are most likely sufficient changes in the market that require an adjustment in the report. If you need a change within this time frame, many appraisers will make adjustment for a small fee.

If an extension is needed on the report, some lenders will allow it with the proper paperwork and documentation. However, in a market that is noticeably declining the time in which the report is valid becomes significantly shorter.

The maximum period of validity for an appraisal is six months, as the market will definitely have changed and it will take more than minor changes on a report to reflect this. 

 


Posted in:Appraisals and tagged: Appraisals
Posted by Appraisal Team 1 on March 7th, 2016 11:18 AMLeave a Comment

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