Appraisal Institute of Canada

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For Residential Property Owners

Do you want to know the real value of your property?

Many property owners engage AIC-designated appraisers—AACI™ and CRA™—to learn the real value of their home or property. AIC Members provide appraisals to help property owners make well-informed real estate decisions.

What is the benefit of engaging an appraiser?

An AIC-designated appraiser offers an unbiased opinion of value during what can often be an emotionally-driven process. Their fee is not determined by the value of the property being appraised and is generally a flat fee determined by the complexity of the assignment and number of hours required to complete the appraisal. By engaging a third-party valuation expert, you can be sure that you will have all the knowledge required to make an informed real estate decision.


The Importance of Engaging an AIC Member

The Importance of Engaging an AIC Member
The Importance of Engaging an AIC Member

When should a property owner engage an appraiser?

There are several instances where a designated appraiser can assist property owners:

1 Buying a property

When you buy a home, the amount of your approved mortgage is based on the appraised value of your home. That means that it is the appraised value—not the purchase price—that the lender uses to determine the maximum amount of the mortgage loan. If the purchase price you paid is significantly higher than the appraised value, you may not receive the full amount of the loan that you were counting on. It is recommended that you work with your lender to hire a designated appraiser to complete an independent appraisal on a property you are purchasing before you sign the purchase agreement.

2 Selling a property

If you want to determine the best listing price for your property, it is worthwhile to engage a designated appraiser to provide an independent opinion of value based on comprehensive market research.

3 Planning your estate

If you have real estate that you want to bequeath to your children, an independent value will be useful to ensure that this asset is fairly distributed to your family. If you prefer to leave your estate to a charitable organization, then the market value of your property will be required as well.

4 Retirement planning

If you want to determine your wealth to plan for your retirement, a designated appraiser is able to determine the value of your current real estate as well as provide consulting advice to enhance your financial portfolio with a good real estate investment.

5 Litigation

If you are in litigation and property is involved, engage a designated appraiser to provide an expert opinion on the value of the property. For example, there may be a matrimonial division of property or assets, shareholder disputes or a situation in which the market value of the property has an impact on the legal settlement. AIC-designated appraisers are recognized within judicial and quasi-judicial settings.

6 Property tax assessment appeals

In most provinces, if you don’t agree with the value of your property used to determine your property taxes, a designated appraiser can prepare an appraisal and provide you with the support you need to make your argument to the assessment authority.

7 Renovating

If you plan to update your home with a significant renovation, be sure you are investing in the right upgrades. There is an assumption that the money you invest in a renovation will be fully returned to you if you sell the property. That is not always the case, and a designated appraiser can assist you in determining the real value of your property with the renovations you are planning.

8 Capital gains

If you want to be sure that the capital gains that you are reporting are based on a fair market value, engage a designated appraiser to give you the peace of mind that you are paying a fair amount of tax on the disposed property.

9 Insurance coverage

A designated appraiser can complete an appraisal for insurance purposes that can be used by property owners and insurance companies in the event of damage to your property. This is a great way to document the details of the property before a natural disaster or other unfortunate event occurs, and it will expedite your claim during a time that is often very difficult for your family.

10 Bankruptcy

If the unfortunate event occurs in which you must file for bankruptcy, a designated appraiser should be engaged to provide a fair market value for your property, which is one of your most significant assets.

What happens during a property inspection?

An inspection is just one of the many tasks performed by an appraiser. Appraisers must be familiar with the property inspection process, and observe the components and characteristics of the subject property that will influence value in the marketplace.

The appraiser’s inspection takes into account a number of elements, including:

  • The physical characteristics of the dwelling and any outbuilding;
  • Interior/exterior finishes and systems (e.g. heating and cooling);
  • The quality of the improvements; and
  • Any deficiencies or required repairs.

In addition to understanding the dynamics of the real estate market, designated appraisers also have construction knowledge, which is fundamental to their training. Where building characteristics are more complex, members rely on the expertise of industry professionals.

Whether it is the consumer or the lending institution that engages an appraiser, the appraiser will:

  • Set a convenient time for an inspection.
  • Plan for 20-40 minutes for the inspection, depending on the size and characteristics of the property.
  • Collect as much information as possible during the inspection of the home on the interior and exterior of the property (e.g. room layout, improvements, dwelling measurements, information on any outbuildings or garage, site improvements, etc.).
  • Take photographs to provide a visual representation of the data described in the report. Exterior photographs are important to clearly identify the property and its characteristics. Interior photographs are occasionally requested by the appraiser’s client and may require your consent.
  • Inquire about important features of your property such as the original date of construction, dates of any major additions or renovations, etc.
  • Gather information about recent marketing activity on your home. While public information is often available, the appraiser may inquire about any listings of the property (including private listings) or offers to purchase in the past 12 months, as well as any sales of the property for the previous three years.

Consumers often want a preliminary estimate of value before the appraiser leaves the property. It is important for consumers to be aware that most of the valuation process occurs after the inspection. The inspection allows the appraiser to gather sufficient information to properly describe the property.

Estimating the market value requires the appraiser to complete a thorough analysis of market conditions and market activity. It is often a complex process that involves collecting and analyzing between 3 and 10 (or more) comparable properties in order to form a reliable estimate of market value.

BE AWARE! Consumers must be mindful that under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA), the appraiser must obtain the homeowner’s or occupant’s consent (if different than homeowner) either in writing or verbally, prior to taking interior photographs.

As a consumer, this is what you are paying for: an independent and unbiased opinion of value by a qualified appraisal professional to be given to the client for a specific purpose.

Who is the appraiser’s client?

Appraisers work on a confidential basis with their clients (known as client-appraiser relationship) and have a fiduciary duty to their client similar to that of other professionals such as lawyers and accountants.

Under the AIC’s Canadian Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, any discussions on or disclosure of information contained in an appraisal report must be done with the written consent of the appraiser’s client.

Often when a report is completed for mortgage lending purposes, the homeowner is required to pay the appraisal fee but the appraiser’s client is the lending institution making a lending decision for the property based on the report. The lender provides instructions to the AIC member regarding how the report is to be completed.

AIC members are required to comply with the AIC’s standards of professional practice (CUSPAP). CUSPAP requires an AIC member to maintain the confidential nature of their relationship with their client. The AIC member will need written authorization from the lender – their client – to release the report to any third party – including the person who paid for the report. Only the AIC member’s client and any intended user identified in the report are authorized to receive a copy of and rely on the report. Because the AIC member is the author of the report, consent to release must also be obtained from the AIC member.

The homeowner is the lender’s client. You may wish to ask your lender what the lender’s policies and practices are regarding whether or not you (the lender’s client) will pay for the report to be performed, and/or get a copy of that report regardless of whether the loan is approved or denied. This is a business decision by your lender/mortgage broker. An AIC appraiser would not be aware of this information or of any arrangements made between your lender and you – their client.