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Frequently Asked Questions

Why might I need an Appraiser?
A person might need an appraiser for a number of reasons. Sometimes a person may wish to put their home up for sale but do not trust the realtor or may not be ready for a realtor and may seek an independent valuation of their property. first from a licensed and/or Certified appraiser. Sometimes a person (s) may be a tenant or renter of a home and they may wish to buy it from the owner. They may seek an appraisal of the home to get a valuation in order to negotiate with the homeowner and also to see if they can afford it. There may be a time when the owner wishes to lower his property tax assessment and may seek an appraisal of his or her property in order to lower his annual property tax amount. In a divorce situation, both parties may seek to have an appraisal performed on a property in order to settle their financial affairs. Or one party may wish to buy out the other person's share of the property. When the property owner passes away sometimes an accountant or attorney may instruct the heirs of the property (sometimes the trustee) to get an appraisal done as of the date of death of that person, in order to establish a valuation basis for the property as of that time (the date of death). Banks and/or lending institutions may order an appraisal on a property to establish the valuation for a loan and/or for refinance purposes.
What will my appraisal report contain?
A typical report will contain general information regarding the neighborhood (proximity to supporting services) and current market conditions as well as specific items involving the property (i.e. lot size, gross living area, bedrooms, bathrooms, year built, and condition). It will also have a sketch of the property, showing where the rooms are located as well as other features (i.e.pool, spa,cov.patio) and structures (garages, workshop, guesthouse, etc.). The sketch is usually based upon a physical measurement of the property during the appraisal inspection. The report also contains photographs of the home (both inside and out) and comparable sales used in the report. The report contains information and/or characteristics from other sales comparables ( including listing or pending sales) that are then compared to the information and characteristics of the subject property in order to provide an indicated value of the subject property for each comparable sale used. Sales comparables are then analyzed. Most weight is generally given to those sales comparables with similar characteristics to the subject property such as similar size, condition, and/or amenities. After careful analysis of the sales comparables, a final valuation of the property is provided. Finally, a report should contain an appraiser certification page or pages indicating that the appraiser did in fact inspect the property and has no financial interest in the property. Among other things, the certification should state that the appraiser has no bias with respect to the property that is the subject of the report and no personal interest with respect to the parties involved.
Where do appraisers get the information necessary to give fair valuations?
I subscribe to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and to Collateral DNA. I also on occasion get information from a Title Company. The MLS generally provides useful information on the details of the property. These will include items such as if the property has been remodeled or is a "fixer". Also if it has a pool, spa, guesthouse, view, etc. It usually provides pictures of the property listed and the phone number of the broker involved. This is the source that realtors use. The Collateral DNA provides a lot of public records and information. It provides a plat map of the street, where the subject property is located as well as comparable sales. This source will provide general information on the property such as zoning, flood map info., taxes, a legal description, the lot size, year built, bedrooms, bathrooms, gross living area, last transfer date, and sales amount of the property as well as the sales history.
Who owns the appraisal report?
Generally, the person who pays for the report owns it. This is usually the client. This could be a homeowner, heir, trustee, tenant, or a bank and/or financial institution. Also, note in order to send a copy to another party, the appraiser must get authorization from the client and/or owner of the report.
What is PMI?
PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance is a type of insurance conventional mortgage lenders require when homebuyers put down less than 20% of the home's purchase price. You will need to pay a mortgage insurance premium---the amount to receive PMI--- though how you do so can differ by lender.PMI can increase the cost of your loan and is typically included in your total monthly payment.PMI is a type of mortgage insurance typically required for conventional loans and government-backed loans such FHA and USDA loans. In most cases, you may need to make an upfront payment at closing then additional monthly payments in addition to payments towards your mortgage.
How are appraisers certified in California?
To be a Certified Residential Appraiser in the state of California one needs to have a college degree or have taken some college-level education courses. One must take 200 hours of education. One must take a 15 hours USPAP (Standards for Appraisal Practice) and a California state and federal laws course which is in addition to the 200 hours. After completing the education requirement, one must take and pass an exam. After that one must complete 1,500 hours completing appraisal work-related assignments under the tutelage of a Certified Residential Appraiser. The 1,500 hours cannot be completed within 12 months. For more information please contact the Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers (B.R.E.A.) at (916) 552-9000 or online at
Why choose Randy M. Sonns Certified Residential Appraiser?
I believe that I have the experience, knowledge, and integrity to provide a reliable and credible real estate appraisal report to my clients. I started as a staff appraiser at a major bank (Great Western Bank) in 1987. In 1992 I became a state-certified residential appraiser (#AR004056) in the state of California. I have experience appraising single-family residences, condominiums, and 2 to 4-unit apartments. I have appraised beachfront properties to properties in hillside areas. I have appraised high-end custom-built homes in wealthy locations as well as properties in low-income areas. I have appraised properties in primarily Los Angeles and Ventura Counties but also in Orange and San Bernardino Counties as well. I have many good reviews. I have over 150 good reviews on Home Advisor/Angi as well as 33 good reviews on Google, 5 on Yelp & 5 on Thumbtack. I have a fast turnaround time. My appraisal reports are usually completed and sent out to my clients within 2 days of doing the appraisal inspection. I take the time needed to prepare for each appraisal assignment. This may involve researching 10 to 15 sales and/or listing comparables in order to come up with the best comparables (usually 5 or 6) to be used in the appraisal report. I take the time to adequately interview my clients to see what their needs are and what it is they are trying to accomplish by employing me as their appraiser. I am prompt with my appointment time, and I try to be flexible with my schedule in case the client needs to change the appointment time. I always take the time to answer my clients' questions and explain how the appraisal process works. I am always honest with them if I feel I can't help them or if the assignment is too difficult for me or if I think an appraisal will not help them. I tell my clients who call me and are shopping for an appraiser that if they find one who is Certified, has good reviews, has been in business at least 10 years and who has some knowledge of the neighborhood where the property is located, then they can't go wrong. Hopefully, they will choose me. Note, I also give discounts to military personnel and senior citizens. It is usually 10%.

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