Dennis G. Pollak has answers to "Frequently Asked Questions"

Dennis G. Pollak is more than happy to talk to you about any questions you might have about appraisals or real estate in San Bernardino County. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your specific valuation problems.

Describe an appraisal
What does an appraiser do?
What are the reasons a person would need a real estate appraisal?
What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?
My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?
What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?
After completing the report, what assurance is there that the final number is legitimate?
What does it mean for an appraiser to be licensed?
Who engages the services of appraisers?
Where does Dennis G. Pollak get the information used to estimate values in San Bernardino County or other areas?
How can a licensed appraiser help me?
What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?
How do I get ready for the appraiser?
How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?
Who actually owns the appraisal report?
I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?



Describe an appraisal   (Back to top)

The appraisal process is an evaluation that produces an opinion of value. There are three "common approaches to value" which assists the real estate appraiser arrive at this opinion or valuation. One of the methods is the Cost Approach - which is how much it would cost to replace the improvements, less physical deterioration and other factors, plus the land value. The most common approach in figuring the value of a house is the Sales Comparison Approach which concerns making a comparison to comparable homes close by. Being the most common approach, the Sales Comparison Approach is generally the most precise and best indicator of market value for a residence. One of the least common approaches in appraising homes is the Income Approach, which is commonly used to find the value of a property based on what an investor would pay based on the capital produced by the property.

What does an appraiser do?   (Back to top)

An appraiser forumlates an impartial and well justified determination of market value, to be used in making real estate transactions. Appraisers present their professional conclusions in appraisal reports.


What are the reasons a person would need a real estate appraisal?   (Back to top)

There are a lot of reasons to purchase an appraisal from Dennis G. Pollak with the most common reason being real estate and mortgage transactions. Other reasons for purchasing an appraisal report include:
  • To receive a loan.
  • To lower your property taxes.
  • To help a homeowner realize if they owe less than 80% of their home's value and remove insurance.
  • To contest inflated property taxes.
  • If you need to settle an estate.
  • To provide you an edge when purchasing a home.
  • To determine the most probable price when listing your home.
  • To ensure parties are provided just compensation in eminient domain cases.
  • Government agencies such as the IRS require an appraisal on every house.
  • If you ever find yourself in a civil case.
If you need more information regarding the appraisal process, please click here.


What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?   (Back to top)

Appraisers do not do perform house inspections and are not home inspectors. A third-party home inspector will evaluate the structure of the property, from the roof to the foundation. Commonly, a home inspection report will evaluate the amenities and the requirements of the property: air conditioning (weather permitting), electrical services, the condition of the heating system, the plumbing; then the structural integrity of the home such as the attic, exposed insulation, walls, floors, ceilings, windows, then the foundation, basement and visible structures.

My agent performed a CMA for me. Is that the same as an appraisal?   (Back to top)

Simply put, it's like comparing opera to country. What the CMA relies upon are vague trends. An appraisal relies on comparable sales that can be verified by records. Area and building values are also precedent in an appraisal. All a CMA does is generate a "ball park figure." Being a documented and carefully investigated opinion of value, appraisals are defensible and stand up in legal situations.

Who's creating the report is frankly the biggest difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Real estate agents, who may not have a true grasp of valuation methods or the entire market, create CMA's. A certified, California licensed professional who has formed their livelihood on valuing real estate in and around San Bernardino County creates the appraisal. Further, the appraiser is an independent voice, with no vested interest in the value conclusion, unlike the agent, whose income is tied to the value of the home.

What can I expect to see in my appraisal report?   (Back to top)

The main purpose of an appraisal document is to provide a value opinion, and depending on the scope of the report, you'll usually see the following:
  • Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
  • How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
  • The reason for the assignment.
  • Precisely what "value" attribute is being reported and what that value means.
  • The effective date of the value opinion.
  • Characteristics of the property that have a bearing on the value, including: location, physical description, legal attributes, economic attributes, the real property interest in question, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, items that are more or less permanently installed and even intangible items.
  • Any known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and other items of a similar nature.
  • Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
  • The scope of work considered when completing the assignment.
For a more in depth look at what goes into an appraisal report click here: Sample Appraisal Report


After completing the report, what assurance is there that the final number is legitimate?   (Back to top)

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

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

  • That appraisal services were delivered in a careful and cognizant fashion.

  • That a solid, defensible appraisal report was conferred.
To become a state licensed appraiser, we must satisfy intense education and experience requirements that enable us to formulate an unbiased opinion. Plus, appraisers must abide by a meticulous industry code of ethics and comply with national standards of practice for real estate appraisal. The tenets for carrying out an appraisal and communicating its results are guaranteed by enforcement of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).


   (Back to top) Regulations regarding licensing and certification vary from state to state. However, licensing and certification is commonly associated with many hours of coursework, tests and practical experience. Once an appraiser is licensed, he/she must then complete continuing education courses so that the license doesn't expire. To see the specific requirements for any state click here.

Who engages the services of appraisers?   (Back to top)

Mortgage lenders are an appraiser's most likely customer, requesting their services to ensure real estate involved in a mortgage transaction is adequate collateral for a loan. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters and investment decisions.

Where does Dennis G. Pollak get the information used to estimate values in San Bernardino County or other areas?   (Back to top)

Collecting information is one of the primary occupations of an appraiser. Data can be split into Specific or General. Specific data is collected from the property itself; Location, condition, amenities, size and other specific data are gathered by the appraiser during an inspection.

General data is received from a many places. To look up recent sales to be used as "comps", we typically go to the local Multiple Listing Service. Tax records and other courthouse documents verify actual sales prices in a market. Appraisers routinely need to report when a property lies in a flood zone, and that information is retrieved from a FEMA data outlet such as a la mode's InterFlood service.

And most importantly, the appraiser gathers general data from his or her collective knowledge gained from creating appraisals for other properties in the same market.


How can a licensed appraiser help me?   (Back to top)

An appraisal is a valuable tool anytime the value of your home is relevant to some financial decision. For those selling a home, you'll want to figure out the price that gets you the most profit but also ensures you don't have to wait too long for a buyer to show up; an appraisal can help with that. 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 home is often the single, largest financial asset anybody owns. Don't make decisions in the dark with a professional appraisal.


What exactly is PMI and how can I get rid of it?   (Back to top)

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. This additional plan protects the lender if a borrower doesn't pay on the loan and the market price of the home is lower than what the borrower still owes on the loan. Once you reach the point where your home's equity plus the amount you've paid is at least 20% of your loan balance, you can have your PMI dropped.

The money you keep from getting rid of your PMI will make up for the cost of the appraisal in a matter of months. Dennis G. Pollak is in the business of tracking value trends in Hesperia and San Bernardino County. Contact us today.

How do I get ready for the appraiser?   (Back to top)

We begin with an inspection of the property. During this process, the appraiser will come to your home and measure it, determine the layout of the rooms inside, confirm all aspects of the home's general condition, and take several photos of your house for inclusion in the report. On the home's interior, pick up any clutter and make sure we can access things like furnaces and water heaters. On the outside, trim any landscaping so we can be free to get an accurate measurement of outside walls.

You can make our visit go faster and improve the quality of the appraisal report by having the following things on hand:
  • A survey or plot map of the property and building (if readily available).
  • Title policy that lists encroachments or easements.
  • 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 "suggested" improvements when the property is being appraised "as complete".

How does an appraiser define "Market Value"?   (Back to top)

In real estate appraising, 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 actually owns the appraisal report?   (Back to top)

For mortgage transactions, the lender orders the appraisal, either directly or through a third party. While the buyer pays for the report as part of the closing costs, the lender retains the right to use the report or any information contained within. 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 engaging the appraiser for things outside securing a mortgage. In these scenarios, the appraiser may state the purpose of the appraisal; for PMI removal, or estate planning or tax challenges, for example. If not stated otherwise, the home owner can do whatever they want with the appraisal.


I want to get more for my house. Where should I spend money renovating?   (Back to top)

The added value of a particular amenity truly depends on the local market. For example, installing an inline humidifier could be nice in arid regions, but completely useless near the coast!

As a rule, the best ROI from renovating a home comes in the kitchen. One recent study revealed that putting $20,000 into a kitchen remodel would add about $17,500 to the value of the home - or about an 88% return on investment. Bathrooms are right up there with kitchens, returning 85%. On the contrary, something that may not add value would be painting just for the sake of redecorating.