A home purchase is the largest, single investment most people will ever make. The purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that involves multiple parties beyond the buyer and seller. The Realtor aids in the sales process, the mortgage company provides the financing, the title company ensures clear title and a safe transaction.

But who makes sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? A real estate transaction is too valuable for all the parties to not bring in an unbiased expert to ascertain a fair market value. This is where the appraisal comes in.

An appraisal company gives an unbiased estimate of the value for a parcel of real estate. Most people turn to a licensed, certified, professional appraiser like Mario Mazzamuto to provide them with the most accurate estimate of the true value of their property.

What exactly is an appraisal?

Here is an outline of the home appraisal process, and how the value of a property is determined by an unbiased expert appraiser.

The Inspection
So what goes into a real estate appraisal? It all starts with the inspection. An appraisal company’s duty is to inspect the property being appraised to ascertain the true status of that property. He or she must actually see features, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure that they really exist and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the proper square footage and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features – or defects – that would affect the value of the house.

Once the site has been inspected, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a cost approach, a sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach
The cost approach is the easiest to understand. The appraiser uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to determine how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This value often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. Why would you pay more for an existing property if you could spend less and build a brand new home instead? While there may be mitigating factors, such as location and amenities, these are usually not reflected in the cost approach.

Sales Comparison
Instead, appraisers rely on the sales comparison approach to value these types of items. Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they work. They understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. They know the traffic patterns, the school zones, the busy throughways; and they use this information to determine which attributes of a property will make a difference in the value. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are ”comparable” to the subject being appraised. The sales prices of these properties are used as a basis to begin the sales comparison approach.

Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), the appraiser adjusts the comparable properties to more accurately portray the subject property. For example, if the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable home. If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

In the case of income producing properties – rental houses for example – the appraiser may use a third approach to valuing the property. In this case, the amount of income the property produces is used to arrive at the current value of those revenues over the foreseeable future.

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or ”bidding wars” that may adjust the final price up or down. But the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don’t want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. The bottom line is: an experienced appraisal company will help you get the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.

Why An Appraisal?

There are many reasons to get a professional real estate appraisal. Every year, countless people in the United States buy, sell or refinance their own slice of the American Dream. Most, if not all, of these transactions include a simple line item for a home appraisal. It has become an understood and accepted part of a real estate transaction. “Let’s bring in the expert and make sure we’re not spending too much on this property.”

For homeowners, a real estate appraisal is the linchpin to buying or selling their home. It allows the property transactions to occur among the buyer, seller, real estate agent and mortgage lender.

But there are many other times when the services of a certified, licensed, independent real estate professional might come in handy.

  • Divorce Appraisals
  • Residential Investment and “Flipping”
  • Bankruptcy Appraisals
  • Bail Bonds Appraisals
  • Estate & Date of Death
  • Financial Planning & Trusts
  • Horse & Specialty Properties
  • PMI Removal Appraisals
  • Pre-Foreclosure & Short Sales
  • Tax Assessment Appeals
  • Pre-Listing, Pre-Purchase, FSBO’s
  • Home Measurement Services
  • Rush Appraisals Available

Unlike a real estate agent, an appraisal company has no vested interest in what amount the house sells for.  It’s easy for them to step in and give you the information to help you make your decision.  Appraiser fees are based on efforts to complete the report and not a percentage of the sales price. So seeking a professional appraisal can often help homeowners make the best decisions on investing in their homes and setting a fair sales price.

What is the service area of SF Bay Appraisals?

Our Service Area


Do home buyers need their own appraisal?

Buying a home is a significant investment.  Before you invest in a property, you should obtain a professional appraisal from an appraiser with your interests in mind. Normally an appraisal will need to be performed on behalf of the lender, by an appraiser working closely with sellers, brokers, and agents.Our appraisers bring critical analysis to help you choose the best options possible. We also offer additional market information that can benefit you during the process of buying a new home. From local property listing data to general market info, our experienced team has helped countless homeowners navigate real estate in the Bay area.Contact A Licensed AppraiserAt SF Bay Real Estate Appraisal Services, our goal is to provide honest assessments of real estate for all parties involved. Over the years, we are pleased to know that our work has given peace and comfort to buyers and sellers alike. Contact us today to have an appraiser assist you with your purchase of a new home!

Why would I need an Appraisal Review?

The Federal Reserve has recently reiterated that “financial institutions must have an effective, independent real estate appraisal and evaluation program,” and that appraisers performing reviews should “have the knowledge and expertise to assess compliance with the Federal Reserves appraisal regulations and guidelines.” Here at San Francisco Bay Appraisal Services, we provide appraisal review services that are independent, qualified, professional and square with the Federal Reserve’s guidelines.Appraisal reviews “should determine whether the appraisal or evaluation is appropriate for the transaction, the risk of the transaction, and whether the process by which the collateral valuation is obtained ensures independence and quality,” the Fed says.They “should also indicate whether the appraisal or evaluation report is consistent with the engagement letter, which sets forth the scope of the appraisal assignment.”The Fed also notes that “some banks supplement routine reviews with post-funding evaluations of appraisal quality for some of their higher-risk or greater-value transactions as a control to assist in detecting valuation problems.”In addition to conforming our work to the forms and guidelines of our review clients, there are four Fannie Mae forms that are generally used for review services, and we can prepare an appraisal review on any of them. They include an appraisal “desk” review, a “field” review, a “short” form and a “narrative” form. Here at San Francisco Bay Appraisal Services, we are experienced in all types of appraisal reviews, review procedures and the responsibilities of review appraisers.We understand what makes a quality appraisal and what the most common deficiencies are, especially in our home market. At the same time, we are professional enough to recognize that our competitors in our market are capable of doing a good job! The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) govern appraisal reviews as well as appraisal reports, and you can count on us to ethically evaluate appraisal reports performed by others. Those others may be reviewing our work, too!In short, here at San Francisco Bay Appraisal Services, you can rely on our independent judgment, because we offer professional, objective, ethical appraisal review services for our clients. Browse our website to learn more about our qualifications, expertise and services offered.

Are you FHA Approved?

FHA Approved

SF Bay Appraisal is FHA Approved. Our company is on the FHA Roster of approved residential appraisers. We are qualified and approved to do appraisals for FHA insured loans. We’re trained and understand the rules and procedures in FHA’s guidance and policy documents.  If you’re in need of an appraisal for an FHA loan, please contact us and we’ll be able to help you right away.

An FHA loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The FHA does not loan money to borrowers, rather, it provides lenders protection through mortgage insurance (MIP) in case the borrower defaults on his or her loan obligations. Available to all buyers, FHA loan programs are designed to help creditworthy low-income and moderate-income families who do not meet requirements for conventional loans. Remember, the FHA is different from the VA appraiser panel in that the lender can choose the appraiser.

FHA loan programs are particularly beneficial to those buyers with less available cash. The rates on FHA loans are generally market rates, while down payment requirements are lower than for conventional loans.

How do I prepare for an appraisal?

How to Prepare

For homeowners, a real estate appraisal is the linchpin to buying or selling their home. It allows the property transactions to occur among the buyer, seller, real estate agent and mortgage lender.

Before an Appraiser arrives, there are a few things you should know. By law, an appraiser must be state licensed to perform appraisals prepared for federally related transactions. Also by law, you are entitled to receive a copy of the completed appraisal report from your lender.

To facilitate the appraisal process, it’s beneficial to have these documents ready for the appraiser:

  • A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if readily available)
  • Information on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years
  • Written property agreements, such as a maintenance agreement for a shared driveway
  • List of personal property to be sold with the home
  • Title policy that describes encroachments or easements
  • Most recent real estate tax bill and or legal description of the property, available from County Assessor.
  • Home inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and wells
  • Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and upgrades, the date of their installation and their cost (for example, the addition of central air conditioning or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available)
  • A copy of the current listing agreement and broker’s data sheet and Purchase Agreement if a sale is “pending”.
  • Information on “Homeowners Associations” or condominium covenants and fees.
  • A list of “Proposed” improvements if the property is to be appraised “As Complete”.

Once your appraiser has arrived, you do not need to accompany him or her along on the entire site inspection, but you should be available to answer questions about your property and be willing to point out any home improvements.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Accessibility: Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible, especially to the attic and crawl space
  • Housekeeping: Appraisers see hundreds of homes a year and will look past most clutter, but they’re human beings too! A good impression can translate into a higher home value
  • Maintenance: Repair minor things like leaky faucets, missing door handles and trim
  • FHA/VA Inspection Items: If your borrower is applying for an FHA/VA loan, be sure to ask your appraiser if there are specific things that should be done before they come. Some items they may recommend might be: Install smoke detectors on all levels (especially near bedrooms); install handrails on all stairways; remove peeling paint and repaint the effected area; provide inspection access to the attic and crawl spaces.

Tips on the inspection report

How to Read a Report

Tips on Reading an Inspection Report

When interviewing a home inspector, ask the inspector what type of report format he or she provides. There are many styles of reports used by property inspectors, including the checklist, computer generated using inspection programs, and the narrative style.

Some reports are delivered on site and some may take as long as 4 – 6 days for delivery. All reporting systems have pros and cons.

The most important issue with an inspection report is the descriptions given for each item or component. A report that indicates the condition as “Good”, “Fair” or “Poor” without a detailed explanation is vague and can be easily misinterpreted. An example of a vague condition would be:

Kitchen Sink: Condition – Good, Fair, or Poor.

None of these descriptions gives the homeowner an idea what is wrong. Does the sink have a cosmetic problem? Does the home have a plumbing problem? A good report should supply you with descriptive information on the condition of the site and home. An example of a descriptive condition is:

Kitchen sink: Condition – Minor wear, heavy wear, damaged, rust stains, or chips in enamel finish. Recommend sealing sink at counter top.

As you can see, this narrative description includes a recommendation for repair. Narrative reports without recommendations for repairing deficient items may be difficult to comprehend, should your knowledge of construction be limited.

Take the time and become familiar with your report. Should the report have a legend, key, symbols or icons, read and understand them thoroughly. The more information provided about the site and home, the easier to understand the overall condition.

At the end of the inspection your inspector may provide a summary with a question and answer period. Use this opportunity to ask questions regarding terms or conditions that you may not be familiar with. A good inspector should be able to explain the answers to your questions. If for some reason a question cannot be answered at the time of the inspection, the inspector should research the question and obtain the answer for you. For instance, if the inspector’s report states that the concrete foundation has common cracks, be sure to ask, “Why are they common?” The answer you should receive will be along these lines: common cracks are usually due to normal concrete curing and or shrinkage. The inspector’s knowledge and experience is how the size and characteristics of the cracking is determined.

We recommend that you accompany your inspector through the entire inspection if possible. This helps you to understand the condition of the home and the details of the report.

Read the report completely and understand the condition of the home you are about to purchase. After all, it is most likely one of the largest investments you will ever make.

What licenses and certifications do you have?

CREA Certification

Certified Real Estate Appraiser (CREA) is a designation for appraisers who specialize in residential real estate appraisal. This may include single-family homes, condominiums, vacant land, and in some cases, small commercial properties. All CREA candidates must have a state license prior to designation, which in the case of SF Bay Appraisal is governed by the Department of Consumer Affairs of the State of California.

Licensing ensures that appraisers meet minimum requirements for education, experience, and examination that comply with federal mandates and ensure that only qualified persons are licensed to conduct appraisals in federally related real estate loan transactions.

The National Association of Real Estate Appraisers (NAREA), a professional society based in Alexandria, MN, confers the designation of Certified Real Estate Appraiser (CREA) to candidates who are state licensed or certified, pay annual membership dues and are accepted by the NAREA. NAREA includes a rigorous code of ethics and represents more than 4,000 appraisers in the United States.

Our team is proud of our record and standing in the professional community.  If you have any questions about our experience and background, please contact us.

Divorce Appraisals

Trustworthy Divorce Appraisal Services

In the midst of balancing everything involved in a divorce, choosing a licensed home appraisal company will help you quickly and effectively determine your real estate value. While you could consider real estate websites or realtors, these resources offer less reliability through possible bias in encouraging property sales. Appraisal companies, however, establish unbiased real estate values that are trustworthy enough to support judicial hearings.

Contact Us

At SF Bay Real Estate Appraisal Services, our licensed appraisers have provided divorce appraisal services for over 15 years. Our extensive experience covers cities in the San Francisco Bay Area like Martinez, Walnut Creek, Concord and beyond. If you are looking for a dependable divorce appraisal service in the Bay Area, contact us today!

Residential Investment and “Flipping”

Residential Investment

Accurate SF Bay Home Appraisals to Guide Your Investments

Countless factors influence the property value of a home. When ownership changes, it is critical to establish an accurate home value so that you can wisely invest in the property. Whether a home has small renovations completed or a run-down property was completely reshaped into a new house, a home appraisal will help you purchase a home for a reasonable price.

Home Appraisal Benefits

With the help of an appraisal company, you can gain confidence in how your residential investment will grow for years to come. Our home appraisals precisely position your home in relation to current market trends and rates. We understand how to project growth and build predictions through our years of experience in the Bay Area.

Additionally, our team works efficiently to bring you a detailed appraisal in a timely manner. In hot housing markets, properties can go quickly, so we strive to bring you results to work with before you miss out on an opportunity. With a thorough home appraisal, you will have all the information you need to make investment decisions you are most comfortable with.

Call Us Today for a Home Appraisal

If you need help determining if a property is a right choice for you in the Martinez, Walnut Creek & Concord, CA area, SF Bay Real Estate Appraisal Services is here to help! Call us today to get started with a home appraisal that you can rely on!

Bankruptcy Appraisals

Bankruptcy Appraisals

Licensed Bankruptcy Home Appraisals

Refinancing through filing for a bankruptcy can be an extremely challenging process. To provide comprehensive financial records, gathering accurate and thorough documents of bills, earnings and transactions are essential.

However, one of the largest assets in need of a precise assessment is your home.
The most effective way to receive a certified home bankruptcy appraisal is to seek a licensed appraiser. Choosing a local appraisal company provides additional understanding of regional regulations that may be overlooked elsewhere. With an appraisal validating your home’s value, filing for a bankruptcy becomes an easier process, saving you time and giving you a better foothold to secure future financial stability.

Get in Touch With Us

SF Bay Real Estate Appraisal Services has provided reputable bankruptcy appraisals for over 15 years for local homeowners. We have successfully helped clients in cities including Walnut Creek, Martinez, Concord and beyond. For an accurate home bankruptcy appraisal, contact us today!

Bail Bonds Appraisals

Estate & Date of Death

Financial Planning & Trusts

Contact us with any questions you have regarding real estate appraisal and valuation in the Bay Area.