Saltwater Property Group, Inc. offers professional appraisal services for both residential and commercial real estate applications. Owner/broker Joe Hatin earned his original license in 1992 and has since produced hundreds of appraisals in conjunction with his real estate business.

Appraisals are essential to the functioning of the real estate market because collateral is defined by its value, and any lender willing to loan money against a property will want to know its likely sales price in an open and competitive market. A real estate appraisal presents a pseudo-scientific concatenation of the various forces and conditions which will best predict a market value for any particular property.

Do not confuse a comparative market analysis, or "CMA" with the work of a professional appraiser. Real estate agents often use CMA's, best described as informal appraisals, to help home sellers determine an asking price. Experienced agents can be quite good at this, but CMA's lack the detail and authority of a professional appraisal, which is the only valuation report a lending institution will consider when making its loan decision.

Appraisers are licensed by the state after extensive coursework, internship and final testing to ensure their competence. They are expected to function as an objective third party with no financial or personal interest in the property or principals involved. A lender will generally want to use an appraiser familiar with its procedures, or may allow you to pick your own appraiser subject to approval by the lender. You will probably pay for the appraisal when you apply for the loan.

The process of publishing an accurate appraisal is detailed and complex, but it is based on factual inputs, defensible estimates and exhaustive research. When thoroughly understood, its conclusions should be inevitable and understandable. Lenders study them closely and will allow no unresolved issues to cloud the bottom line decision, where collateral is exchanged for money.

J. Joseph Hatin is a State Certified General Appraiser RZ2148.