Don Leger Appraisal Service has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Don Leger Appraisal Service is prepared to elaborate on any questions you might have about appraisals in Opelousas and Saint Landry County. Don't hesitate to contact us today.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
What are the reasons someone would require your services?
How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a comparative market analysis (CMA)?
What's in an appraisal report?
Once the assignment has been delivered, what guarantee is there that the final number is valid?
What does it mean for an appraiser to be licensed?
Who employs appraisers?
Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Saint Landry County or other areas?
What can a full appraisal do for me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
Define "Market Value"
Who has rights to the appraisal report?
Are some home improvements more worthwhile than others?



Describe an appraisal   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraiser performs an evaluation that generates an opinion of value. This opinion or estimate is arrived at by a formal process that usually utilizes the three main "common approaches to value". The Cost Approach is one of the methods that appraisers use to find the value of a property; it involves finding what the improvements would cost minus physical degradation, adding the land value. Another of the methods is the Sales Comparison Approach - which concerns making a comparison to other similar properties within a close vicinity which have recently sold. Generally speaking, the Sales Comparison Approach is the most definite indicator of market value of a home. One of the least common approaches in appraising residential properties is the Income Approach, which is generally used to find the value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the income produced by the property.

What does an appraiser do?   (Go to list of  questions)

An appraiser offers an unprejudiced and well substantiated determination of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers show their professional analysis in appraisal reports.


What are the reasons someone would require your services?   (Go to list of  questions)

There are a lot of reasons to order an appraisal from Don Leger Appraisal Service with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. A few other reasons for purchasing an report include:
  • If you are applying for a loan.
  • To lower your property taxes.
  • To show a homeowner has 30% equity and remove PMI.
  • To fight improperly assessed property taxes.
  • To settle an estate.
  • To provide you an edge when purchasing real estate.
  • To find a likely property value when putting your home on the market.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
  • If you ever find yourself in a civil case.
For a more extensive explanation of the appraisal process click here.


How is an appraisal different than a home inspection?   (Go to list of  questions)

Home inspectors do not come to an opinion of value and do not use the same forms as appraisers. A third-party home inspector will evaluate the structure of the house, from the roof to the foundation. The archetypal house inspector's report will include an evaluation of the integrity of the home's heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, and accessible 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)?   (Go to list of  questions)

To be blunt, it's like comparing opera to country. What the CMA depends on are superficial trends. The appraisal relies on similar proven comparable sales. The appraisal report will also include neighborhood and construction costs. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." Delivering a defensible and careful analysis, an appraisal will give a clear opinion of value.

The person behind the report is actually the most significant difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Real estate agents, who may not have a true grasp of valuation methods or the entire market, generate CMA's. A certified, Louisiana licensed professional who has formed their livelihood on valuing real estate in and around Saint Landry County is behind the appraisal. Moreover, the appraiser is an unbiased voice, with no vested interest in the property's value, unlike the agent, whose income is tied to the value of the home.

What's in an appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

The main purpose 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 appraisal.
  • The purpose of the assignment.
  • The type of value reported and a definition of the value reported.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
  • Characteristics of the property that have a bearing on the value, including: location, physical description, legal attributes, economic factors, the real property interest valued, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, trade fixtures and even intangible factors.
  • All known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and the like.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • The scope of work used to complete the appraisal.
For a more detailed view of all that goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


Once the assignment has been delivered, what guarantee is there that the final number is valid?   (Go to list of  questions)

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

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

  • That appraisal services were provided in a careful and conscientious manner.

  • That a credible, substantiated appraisal report was imparted.
There are intense education and on the job experience requirements that must be satisfied in order to achieve the title of "licensed appraiser" in Louisiana. In addition, appraisers must abide by a meticulous industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The rules for working up an appraisal and reporting its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Go to list of  questions) Licensing and certification is achieved through coursework, tests and real world experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he or she must then take continuing education courses so the license stays current. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who employs appraisers?   (Go to list of  questions)

Commonly, appraisers are employed by lenders to estimate the value of a home involved in a loan transaction. Attorneys and CPAs also hire appraisers for asset division and estate settlements.

Where does an appraiser get the information used to estimate values in Saint Landry County or other areas?   (Go to list of  questions)

Collecting information is one of the main things an appraiser performs. Data can be described as either Specific or General. Specific data is from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specifics are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.

General data is gathered from a numerous places. To find out about recently sold homes to be used as "comps", we often go to the local Multiple Listing Service. To double-check actual sales prices, we look at items in the assessor's office and other public documents that are usually online nowadays. Flood zone data is retrieved from FEMA data outlets, such as a la mode's InterFlood product.

And last but not least, the appraiser assimilates general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from doing assignments for other properties in the same market.


What can a full appraisal do for me?   (Go to list of  questions)

If you're involved in some sort of financial decision and the value of your home is relevant, you'll want a full appraisal. If you're selling your home, an appraisal will help you determine the most appropriate price. If you're buying, it makes sure you don't overpay. If you're engaged in an estate settlement or divorce, it ensures that property is divided fairly. A house is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Knowing its true value means you can make the right financial decisions.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Go to list of  questions)

PMI is an acronym for Private Mortgage Insurance. This added plan takes care of the lender if a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the value of the property is less than what is owed on the loan. You can have your PMI dropped once you've achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

The savings from cancelling the PMI required when you got your mortgage will make up for the cost of the appraisal in no time. Don Leger Appraisal Service has years of experience with real estate value trends in Opelousas and Saint Landry County. Contact us today.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (Go to list of  questions)

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. The best thing you can do to help is make sure we have easy access to the exterior of the house (gates aren't locked, etc). Trim any bushes and relocate any items that would get in our way while we measure the structure. Indoors, make sure the appraiser can easily access items like furnaces and water heaters.

You can make our visit go faster and improve the quality of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • Information on any written private agreements, such as a shared driveway with a neighbor.
  • List of personal property to be sold with the home.
  • Any inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and wells.
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker's data sheet and Purchase Agreement if a sale is "pending".
  • A list of "proposed" improvements if the property is to be appraised "as complete".

Define "Market Value"   (Go to list of  questions)

In real estate appraising, Market Value (as opposed to Fair 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."



Who has rights to the appraisal report?   (Go to list of  questions)

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 entitled to a copy of the report - it's usually bundled with all the other closing documents - but is not allowed to use the report for any other purpose without permission from the lender.

It's different when it's the homeowner hiring the appraiser for things outside securing a mortgage. In these scenarios, the appraiser may define the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stipulated otherwise, the home owner can use the appraisal for any purpose.


Are some home improvements more worthwhile than others?   (Go to list of  questions)

This really depends on where the home is. For example, if you're in a neigborhood of small to medium priced homes, a media room may not be something people in that price range want

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 are right up there with kitchens, returning 85%. Adding bedrooms and baths can also boost the value of your home (when done well) as long as your home doesn't then become an oddball for your neighborhood in terms of size.