Home Buying in Great Falls>Question Details

Fred Spilkin, Renter in Great Falls, VA

I need an expert appraiser to value a lot/land I would like to buy in Great Falls, VA. Does the appraiser have to have knowledge of Great Falls?

Asked by Fred Spilkin, Great Falls, VA Sun Jan 9, 2011

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Margo Lockard’s answer
Mr. Spilkin:

You bet an appraiser needs to know an area, but they also need to understand the residential market and many other elements that surround a purchase. If you need the name of one of the best professionals in Northern Virginia, let me know.

Margo Lockard, Associate Broker
ERA Elite Group, Realtors
703-359-7800, x 310
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
Good Morning Fred;
It would help; but if the appraiser is an expert appraiser you should be in good hands.
It has been in my experience that appraisers will consult with local Real Estate agents and other professionals in the County to verifty the information they have collected.
Web Reference: http://www.321property.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
Dear Fred,

As the other 11 agents said, yes, an appraiser does need to have a very good knowledge of the area, particularly when appraising land. We have sold a lot of land ini Great Falls, both as listers and as buyer's agents and would be happy to provide a couple of names of appraisers we would trust.

Feel free to call or email.
Best regards,
Anne Morrow
Office of Jan and Dan Laytham
Great Falls, VA
703-759-7777 office
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
Yes, the licensed appraiser has to have knowledge of the real estate market where the subject property is located, or be able to acquire that knowledge (typically by working with local experts), or decline or withdraw from the appraisal assignment. All states have adopted the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice as part of their state licensing requirements for property appraisers. These standards and licensing requirements have been in effect in most states since the late 1980s. It is important to not that these are the requirements for licensed real estate appraisers. If you get something other than an appraisal (broker’s opinion or comparative market analysis) these valuation standards may or may not be met.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
Hi Fred,

It is always best to go with a local professional. I'm going to assume that you are buying cash as the appraisal process would be handled by your lending institution. And it sounds like you don't have any Realtor representation as a local Realtor could give you this informaton. I just want to make sure that you know the right questions to ask the county and lot owner. What is the zoning (does it fit your use), are public utilities available (if not what are well and septic options), if septic is required when is "Perc" season in your area...our county only allows Perc tests at certain times of the year to make sure the drainage specs are on target....is a second drainfield a county requirement...if so is there enough room on that lot for your proposed building and the 1st and 2nd drain fields..have you contacted the county to make sure there are no outstanding issues on the property.

This may be more information than you wanted but is just a start on the right questions to ask before purchasing a lot. Good luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
Fred, One thing I don't see mentioned is whether the land is on septic and well. You will need to know whether it will perc or require a septic and this would add to your development costs, as digging a well would. The majority of lots in Great Falls are not on public water or sewer but a few are on one or the other.
I would say get an appraiser who works with banks who do land and construction loans; they will be the most experienced. Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
I would say that not only should the appraiser you engage have knowledge of Great Falls, but this appraiser should also be experienced in land sales.

A good place to start looking would be a lender active in exurban areas. Try Middleburg Bank, at least for openers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011

You received some great advice already from my colleagues here.

I would just like to ad that if you choose a realtor, make sure that he/she PHYSICALLY sees the land you plan to purchase, as well as is knowledgeable about the other lots sold in the area.

Just like no home is the same, no lot of land is the same as some may have irregularities or other features that only seeing the land in person will reveal. Barely preparing a CMA based on recent sales (taken from the computer) does NOT present the true value of the property. Sometimes a computerized CMA does NOT present even an estimate of the value of the property.

The same goes for an appraiser. The appraiser will see the land physically, but he/she needs to research the other lots as well to be able to compare in an intelligent way, especially if the appraiser is not local.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
It is important that the appraiser have some insight on what values are in the area they are performing the appraisal, the same goes for Realtors, they should have some knowledge of what homes are selling for in the areas they are working. As well as experience performing a land appraisal, which is different than appraising a home.

Not sure why you need an appraisal, if it is for a sale or get an idea of what the land is worth, an agent could also pull up sales and give you a CMA for less. if it is for a purchase, the bank would need to order it, they would not be able to use your appraisal.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
Fred, my link is a tag to great falls virginia videos, analysis and articles I've written. It will give you some perspective. An excellent realtor can assess its value just fine and for $0.00 rather than an appraisal.

But here is an excellent appraiser:

Rick Phillips
http://www.appraisalsguaranteed.com/ Has his other contact info :)

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
...oh, and I can also put you in touch with a builder, to help you value the property and perhaps also to help you build if that is your intention.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
I am not sure why you're doing an appraisal? If you're buying with cash, then I think you should do that and get the opinion of an agent as well as of a local builder; they can all provide you with input about what your offer should be. In that case, an appraiser who has done land appraisals is necessary and ideally one that is local.

If you're paying with a mortgage, an appraisal will be required so leave that to the bank, but also get value opinions of your agent and a local builder who is buying property in this market place.

I hope that is helpful. If you are not working with an agent because, perhaps, it is a friend or family member selling the property, still get those opinions... I can provide a value opinion for about half the cost of an appraisal and I know Great Falls pretty well...in fact, my family used to own much of Great Falls. Beach Mill Road was called that because my great grandfather and his brothers ran the saw mill on that road... (its not there anymore, don't look for it).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
I've learned for past experiences that not all appraisers are qualified to appraise land. Be sure you specify when looking for one!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 9, 2011
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