Hiring an appraiser to find out your home’s value
Last updated on April 21, 2023
This is it! You’re putting your property up for sale and you’ve reached the stage of setting a fair, justified price. This means doing an in-depth analysis of your property’s condition, of similar properties that have sold in your area and of the current state of the real estate market. It’s critical to be in line with the competition.
Providing a precise and impartial estimate is the essence of what an appraiser does. So they’re the expert to turn to when it’s time to determine your home’s market value.
Learn more about the role of appraisers in real estate and about the reasons to hire one!
- What’s an appraiser?
- The appraisal process
- Selecting your appraiser
- DuProprio’s appraisal assistance tools
In Quebec, real estate appraisal experts can have different titles. On the one hand, the provincial order of chartered appraisers, the Ordre des évaluateurs agréés du Québec (OEAQ), defines a chartered appraiser as a “professional whose work consists of issuing an objective opinion on the value of a real property or interest in such on a given date” [translation]. On the other, the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) is an association for all the professional appraisers who have successfully completed the program leading to the title of either Accredited Appraiser Canadian Institute (AACI) or Canadian Residential Appraiser (CRA), and who meets all the AIC requirements. AIC certification is recognized worldwide.
To have the title and to practice as a professional or chartered appraiser, a person must have a university degree and membership in OEAQ or the AIC. Both types of appraisers have the necessary qualifications to offer valuation, expertise and consultation services for real estate in Quebec.
In addition to being regulated by a professional association and to having the necessary know-how to determine the exact market value of your real estate, a trained appraiser receives no commission for their work. This ensures that they have no stake in the sale of your property, so its value has no impact on their pay. In fact, an appraiser’s salary or fees will be the same whether a house is worth $250,000 or $1.5 million. This means that their appraisal is neutral and impartial.
Their impartiality and training make them experts on real estate valuation who are recognized by financial institutions, investors and multiple organizations. Appraisers are there to give you the straight facts: the amount a buyer will be willing to pay for your property on a given date, under the current market conditions.
The work of the chartered or professional appraiser is to arrive at the most precise market value possible for your property, supported by facts and a thorough explanatory report. Their expertise is useful to:
- Provide an official document to financial institutions
- Have on hand a negotiation tool proving to buyers that your property’s asking price is justified
- Get the market value of a property that has special characteristics or is located in an area where few properties have sold.
Most importantly, hiring a trained appraiser when selling your house prevents certain risks, like leaving money on the table by setting a too-low asking price, or making selling difficult with an inflated asking price. The latter case can drag out the selling time, making it necessary to negotiate your price downward or even leading to not finding a buyer.
A trained appraiser uses 3 important approaches to obtain the value and use of a property: the comparison approach, the income approach and the cost approach.
The comparison approach:
The chartered or professional appraiser analyzes comparables in the area, meaning similar properties that have sold recently. They then make adjustments to put the properties on equal footing, since no two properties are identical.
The income approach:
This is used for buildings that have rental income. It’s based on the net revenue that the property can generate and on the performance that the market requires for an investment of that type. Therefore, with this method, the property’s market value takes into account the expected future proceeds.
The cost approach:
This considers all the potential costs of changes or renovations required to the property, the land and its improvements if they become obsolescent, deteriorate, age, or are leased. This approach applies mainly to recent constructions or buildings with a unique purpose.
Once the appraisal is completed using these methods, the appraiser compares the results and assigns the market value obtained from one or more of these approaches. The most likely market value is the one whose accuracy is highest relative to the property type in question. The appraiser draws on their expertise, on the reliability of the data available and on the type of property when choosing the most relevant result.
For a single-family house or a condo, the most often used approach is the comparables method because its reliability is recognized by the province’s financial institutions.
An inspection visit normally lasts 45 to 60 minutes. In that time the appraiser focuses on the property’s physical aspects and determines whether any work is needed. For instance, they’ll look at:
- The size of the property (home and lot) and its living area
- The number of rooms
- Whether there is a garage or pool
- The exterior cladding
- The materials used
- The property’s overall condition
The appraiser will take photos and talk to the owner to get as much information as possible. The visit also includes a verification of the property’s localization, the neighbourhood and its features. In short, the appraiser takes into consideration all the different factors that influence the selling price of a home.
Once the appraiser is done analyzing the property’s characteristics, the market trends and the comparable properties that have sold in the area, they give the owners a detailed appraisal report. This document is an invaluable tool when selling a home because it sets a fair and market-appropriate price and provides proof to support it.
The report produced by a trained appraiser therefore reveals your property’s market value but also gives details on the analysis that was done, the date of the inspection and its goal (selling, refinancing or other). The document will be 30 to 40 pages long. In it, the appraiser will specify in a professional and objective manner the features that influence the property’s market value. It will also include information about the property, set out anything limiting the scope of the evaluation and be signed by the appraiser.
Don’t forget that this report gives the market value of your home on a given date. A real estate appraisal is valid for a maximum of 6 months, or even less in a volatile market.
How is it different from the municipal assessment?
The market value determined through the work of a trained appraiser is very different from the assessment produced by the municipality. The municipal assessment is based on a set of characteristics of the neighbourhood and is carried out every 3 years. Its sole purpose is to calculate property tax. It doesn’t take into account the realities of the real estate market, nor does it consider any improvements you might have made to your property since the last assessment. Plus, the assessment is actually carried out 18 months before the assessment roll comes into effect. So, relying only on the municipal assessment is risky!
To make sure your appraisal is neutral, impartial and not hindered by any emotional or monetary interest, choose an appraiser who is certified by the OEAQ or is a member of a professional association like the AIC.
If you choose a chartered appraiser, the OEAQ guarantees their technical proficiency, regulates their work, monitors their practices, handles any complaints against them and ensures the appraiser has professional liability insurance. If you hire an appraiser recognized by the AIC (with an AACI or CRA designation), you’ll get an appraiser who must comply with professional standards of practice and is guided by the organization’s strict code of conduct.
While the title of “chartered appraiser” is reserved for members of the OECQ and the title of “professional appraiser” is reserved for AIC members, just about anyone can hire themselves out to perform a real estate appraisal. That’s why it’s important to check the credentials of the person you want to hire, as well as their objectivity relative to your property’s market value.
If you want to hire a chartered appraiser, you can check their enrolment on the Members' List or contact the OEAQ at 514-281-9888 or toll-free at 1-800-982-5387. You can also check whether they’ve previously had any disciplinary sanctions. To find an appraiser who’s an AIC member, you can search in the directory on their website.
At minimum, it’s recommended to make sure the selected appraiser has commercial liability insurance and has no financial or emotional interest in your property. You can also get testimonials from former clients by reading the comments in various search engines.
Unfortunately, there are no pre-set rates for the services of trained appraisers. The price will depend on:
- The area
- The appraiser’s experience
- The purpose of the appraisal
- The type of property being appraised
However, according to CAA, the cost of a real estate appraisal on a single-family home is at least $500. To get a better idea of what you’ll have to pay to appraise your property, contact some chartered or professional appraisers in your area to get some quotes. You can compare their prices and the services included.
There are many situations where getting a property appraisal is appropriate. The most obvious is when you're selling your property. When you’re establishing your asking price, an appraiser’s report will give you negotiation arguments and let you start off the marketing process with confidence.
It may also be critical or appropriate to get an appraisal report in circumstances like these:
- Separation (to find out the market value to sell or to buy back a portion from the ex-partner)
- Death (to divide the inheritance in an estate)
- Mortgage refinancing (the bank may order an appraisal to grant a loan based on the property value)
- Contesting a new property assessment roll (if the municipal assessment is considered too high)
- Expropriation (to calculate how much the owner will receive in compensation)
- Renovations (to determine the actual value your property will have after the work)
- Retirement planning (to find out the value of your estate)
- And more
Selling a property agent-free can include a neutral and professional appraisal. At DuProprio, our clients have access to various appraisal assistance tools (like the Directory of Properties Sold in Your Area) and to the services of our internal team of professional appraisers and appraisal technicians1 (via Appraiser+).
DuProprio’s Appraiser+ service includes 2 components: real estate data gathering and a call with a professional appraiser. The data gathering is an analysis of the real estate market in your area. The document containing the analysis serves as a guide to help buyers determine their property’s market value. It includes a price range, which the seller can use to think about what their list price will be, based on their personal selling situation.
To estimate the price range of a property, the DuProprio appraiser analyzes the information they were given about the property. From that information, they select a series of recently sold properties in that area that have similar features to the one being evaluated. The appraiser then draws up a picture of the current competitive landscape and determines the most likely selling price for the property. In other words, the appraiser uses the comparables method.
With the Appraiser+ report in hand, the client can then schedule a call with an appraiser from the DuProprio team to get a good understanding of the analysis and find out what the arguments justifying the price range are.
Caution! The Appraiser+ document is not a complete appraisal report.
While Appraiser+ is a very helpful tool in setting your asking price, it’s important to note that the document given to the client is different from an appraisal report from a private appraiser. For instance, the DuProprio appraiser does not do an in-person visit of the property, and they have more limited information to conduct their analysis. It is therefore a summary report that includes a selling price range, rather than a precise market value.
The DuProprio team is made up of appraisers, some of whom are members of the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC), and of trained and qualified real estate appraisal technicians.
“My role as an appraiser is to give clients the right tools and the right advice to help them establish the fair market value of their property and to justify that price to potential buyers, “ explained Marlène Bates, Appraiser Team Leader at DuProprio.
Their services differ from those of a real estate agent because the DuProprio appraisal team is objective and specialized in real estate appraisal, and because they have no financial interest in the sale of the properties they appraise. In fact, a real estate agent is more likely to suggest the potential highest selling price than the actual market value of a property.
So, when it comes time to appraise your home’s market value, it’s best to ask an expert: an appraiser.
DuProprio offers various tools and advice from a team of appraisers to help you set your property’s value and to justify your asking price to potential buyers during the negotiations. To learn more about our services, watch our short webinar or schedule a call with one of our advisors.