Use caution when ordering home appraisals

By: Michelle Carolla
Published: June 25, 2008

The tough economic times continue.

Certainly, among the big issues right now are the housing crunch and the money crunch.

Home foreclosures are still at record highs all across the country. Some homeowners are fighting to keep their home by refinancing them.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs warned people to use caution when ordering appraisals.

Make sure you research the appraiser you're thinking of using. Get references. Don't ask an appraiser to "get you what you need” for your loan. Be realistic with your expectations. The bottom line: Your home is not worth what it was when the market was at its peak.

Ki Thompson, a veteran appraiser in Myrtle Beach, gave us some tips on what to look for in a good appraiser. "Make sure when you start asking questions that you feel like the person is answering in an honest way and that he's actually going to do the research and find the comparable sales,” said Thompson. “When he's there doing an inspection, make sure he's looking at different details or the house, the quality of the construction, the type of construction, style of the house and also what he's going to be looking for is pertinent characteristics within your neighborhood"

Consumer Affairs also said an appraiser:

- Cannot guarantee a value;
- Offer a discount if the appraisal results in loan approval;
- Misrepresent the property.

In other consumer news, how to keep the money you have is a top priority for most of us right now. Consumer Reports said there are money blunders that can rob you.

Here are some things to avoid:

- As great as it may sound, retiring early can cost your hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, Medicare doesn't cover you until age 65 so you may also need to buy health insurance also.
- Living an unhealthy lifestyle can cost you thousands in higher insurance premiums, medical bills, prescriptions, lost work time and more. Just another reason to get healthy.
- Under funding your 401k is another money loser. If you put in the maximum amount it will save you thousands on taxes.

Mid-year is a good time to look at your budget and re-evaluate your savings.

Appraisals show effective property values as Myrtle Beach housing market fluctuates

MYRTLE BEACH -- While most of the country's home sales suffer, Myrtle Beach-area sales are up by more than 30% for the first half of 2010 compared to the same time period last year.

If you can buy a home or re-finance the one you already own, statistics suggest now is the time to save in a big way.

30-year fixed rate mortgages have an interest rate of just over 4.5%. That's compared to 6.3% five years ago.

On a house that sells for $150,000, your monthly payment five years ago without taxes and insurance would be $934. Today, that payment would be just $767.

Over the course of that loan, five years ago you have paid out $336,000. With today's interest rates that payout would be $276,000.

But before you act, there are things buyers and sellers should know.

You may be upset if the actual size of your new home doesn't match the diagram you were given when you bought the place.

That's part of why hiring an appraiser to inspect the cosmetics of your new home may save you money.

“(There are) times when pre-approved floor plans are different than what we actually go into. Measurements are different and everything else, so we do double-check everything,” said Ki Thompson of Thompson Appraisal Services.

Thompson snaps off many pictures outside as well as inside properties. His job is to help you know what you're really buying.

Most of his appraisals cost between $200 and $600. In some cases he has appraised property at 25%, even $100,000 less than the property's original value.

“Even if it's not me, I think it would be a wise move to spend the price of an appraisal to make sure that you're not overspending for a property,” said Thompson.

Thompson also recommends you get an in-depth home inspection in addition to an appraisal so that you get a more accurate idea of just how valuable the structure of the property is.

“They're going to look more into the electricals and exactly how the plumbing works and everything else,” said Thompson.





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