Walz Appraisal Service, LLC has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Walz Appraisal Service, LLC is always eager to address any inquiries you might have about appraisals or real estate in La Crosse County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

What is an appraisal?
What does an appraiser do?
What would cause me to require services from Walz Appraisal Service, LLC?
Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?
What are the contents of an appraisal report?
Once the report has been completed, what assurance is there that the value indicated is valid?
How hard is it to become certified?
Who hires an appraiser?
Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in La Crosse County or other areas?
Why do I need a professional appraisal?
My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
Define "Market Value"
Once complete, who actually owns the appraisal report?
Are some home improvements more worthwhile than others?



What is an appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

The process of writing an appraisal consists of an inspection which forms an opinion of value. The appraiser will typically use a few "approaches," typically three, to draw up the estimation of market value. One of the processes in use is the Cost Approach, which finds what it would cost to restore the improvements to the house, less the depreciation and physical deterioration, plus the land value. The Sales Comparison Approach deals with searching for comparable houses in the vicinity and finding value based on making a comparison of those homes to the property being investigated. Usually, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most definite indicator of market value of a residential property. The Income Approach is generally used for determining the market value of income-producing properties based on what an investor would pay based on the amount of capital a property would bring in.

What does an appraiser do?   (See list of FAQ's)

An appraiser provides an unbiased and well justified opinion of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers exhibit their professional findings in appraisal reports.


What would cause me to require services from Walz Appraisal Service, LLC?   (See list of FAQ's)

There are many reasons to get an appraisal with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Some other reasons for getting an report include:
  • To receive a loan.
  • If you would like to reduce your property tax burden.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove Primary Mortgage Insurance.
  • To challenge improperly assessed property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To offer you an edge when purchasing real estate.
  • To figure out the most probable property value when selling your home.
  • To defend your rights if your property is being taken by means of eminent domain in a condemnation case.
  • Because an official agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you are ever involved in a civil case.
If you need more information about the appraisal process, please click here.


Is an appraisal the same as a home inspection?   (See list of FAQ's)

The appraiser is not a home inspector and does not do a complete home inspection. An inspection is a third-party evaluation of the livable structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the bottom. The usual home inspector's report will include an evaluation of the condition of the home's heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement, and visible structure.

What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?   (See list of FAQ's)

Frankly, it's night and day. The CMA depends on indistinct trends in the market. An appraisal is based on comparable sales that can be proven by public record. The appraisal report will also contain location and construction costs. The CMA will provide a non-specific figure. An appraisal delivers a defensible and carefully documented opinion of value.

But the most significant factor is who's behind the report. Real estate agents write CMA's, and they don't always know the whole market or have specific competence when it comes to home valuation. The appraisal is created by a licensed, certified professional who has made a career out of valuing properties. Moreover, the appraiser is an unbiased voice, with no vested interest in the property's value, unlike the real estate agent, whose income is tied to the value of the home.

What are the contents of an appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

The main objective of an appraisal report is to give a value opinion, and depending on the scope of the report, you'll usually see the following:
  • The client and whose purposes the appraisal is to serve.
  • The intended use of the report.
  • The purpose of the assignment.
  • The type of value contained and a definition of the value reported.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.
  • Pertinent property characteristics, including: location, physical description, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest in question, and non-real estate items included in the appraisal, such as personal property, permanent equipment installations and even intangible items.
  • Any known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and other items of a similar nature.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • The scope of work used when completing the assignment.
For a more detailed view of what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the report has been completed, what assurance is there that the value indicated is valid?   (See list of FAQ's)

In the documentation of an appraisal, each appraiser must see to it that each of the items below are covered:
  • The appraisal contained an appropriate analysis of the information.

  • That crucial errors of omission or commission were not committed individually or collectively.

  • That appraisal services were not rendered in a careless or negligent manner.

  • That a solid, supportable appraisal report was communicated.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must satisfy intense education and experience requirements that enable us to formulate an unbiased opinion. Likewise, appraisers must obey a strict industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The guidelines for developing an appraisal and documenting its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (See list of FAQ's) Regulations regarding licensing and certification of Real Estate Appraisers are different from state to state. In general, licensing and certification typically translates to many hours of coursework, tests and experience working under a supervisor. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she must then take continuing education courses so the license remains up to date. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who hires an appraiser?   (See list of FAQ's)

Most of the time, appraisers are employed by lenders to estimate the value of a house involved in a loan transaction. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does an appraiser get the data used to estimate values in La Crosse County or other areas?   (See list of FAQ's)

One of the primary tasks an appraiser must accomplish is to assimilate data. Data can be described as either Specific or General. Specific data is from the home itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered by the appraiser while on site.

General data is gathered from a number of places. To look up recent sales to be used as "comps", an appraiser will typically use the local Multiple Listing Service. To verify actual sales prices, we research tax records and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Appraisers often need to report when a property lies in a flood zone, so that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

And last but not least, the appraiser gathers general data from his or her past experience in doing assignments for other houses in the same market.


Why do I need a professional appraisal?   (See list of FAQ's)

If you're involved in any kind of financial decision and the value of your home is relevant, you'll want a full appraisal. When selling your house, an appraisal assists you in setting the most appropriate price. If you're buying, it makes sure you don't overpay. For people settling an estate or divorce, an appraisal from Walz Appraisal Service, LLC is the best documentation to ensure assets are divided evenly. A home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Without knowing its real value, wise financial decisions are impossible.


My mortgage statement has an item on it for PMI? Can I get rid of that?   (See list of FAQ's)

PMI is short for for Private Mortgage Insurance. It takes care of the lender if a borrower is unable to pay on the loan and the value of the house is lower than what the borrower still owes on the loan. Once you can prove the amount you owe on your home is less than 80% of the home's market value, you can make a case to your lender to drop the PMI.

Did you have less than 20% to put down on your mortgage? Contact Walz Appraisal Service, LLC today at 608-526-3101 to see if you can save money by removing your Private Mortgage Insurance premium.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (See list of FAQ's)

The first step in most appraisals is the home inspection. What this entails is the appraiser, after setting up an appointment, personally going through the home - recording the layout of the rooms, taking photos and documenting the general status of its features. Inside, pick up any clutter and make sure we can access things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any landscaping so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of outside walls.

To help speed things along plus ensure a more accurate report, try if possible to have the following items:
  • Written property agreements, such as a maintenance agreement for a shared driveway.
  • Any documents, such as a title policy with information on encroachments or easements encroachments or easements.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and your well.
  • Find copies of the current listing agreement, broker's data sheet and, in the event of a pending sale.
  • Most recent real estate tax bill from La Crosse and or legal description of the property.

Define "Market Value"   (See list of FAQ's)

In real estate appraising, Market Value is commonly defined as:

"The most probable price (in terms of money) which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably, and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby: the buyer and seller are typically motivated; both parties are well informed or well advised, and acting in what they consider their best interests; a reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market; payment is made in terms of cash in United States dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale."



Once complete, who actually owns the appraisal report?   (See list of FAQ's)

In most real estate transactions, the appraisal is ordered by the lender. Even though it's the buyer that eventually pays for the report, the lender is the intended user. The buyer is certainly entitled to a copy of the report - it's usually included with all the other closing documents - but is not allowed to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

This rule doesn't apply when a home owner engages an appraiser directly. In these situations, the appraiser may state how the appraisal can be used; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stated otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


Are some home improvements more worthwhile than others?   (See list of FAQ's)

Like all things real estate, this is dependent on a home's location. For example, adding a central air conditioner in to a home in the South may add significant value, while putting one in a home near the Pacific Northwest might not have much impact.

As a rule, the most value returned from renovating a home comes in the kitchen. According to one national survey, kitchen remodels returned an average of 88% of the investment. In other words, a $10,000 kitchen remodeling project would add approximately $8,800 to the value of the home. Bathrooms were second, yielding 85%. On the contrary, work that may not increase your value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.