Appraisal Services

What Is an Appraisal?

A home purchase is the largest, single investment most people will ever make. Whether it’s a primary residence, a second vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most of the people involved are very familiar. The Realtor is the most common face of the transaction. The mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. The title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the buyer.

So who makes sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? There are too many people exposed in the real estate process to let such a transaction proceed without ensuring that the value of the property is commensurate with the amount being paid.

This is where the appraisal comes in. An appraisal is an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay – or a seller receives – for a parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. To be an informed party, most people turn to a licensed, certified, professional appraiser to provide them with the most accurate estimate of the true value of their property.

Why Choose Midwest Property Specialists for your Appraisal?

Appraising a home is often at the center of emotional, sometimes stressful, life changes.
Whether you’re buying, selling, or assessing your home’s value for another purpose, We will be professional, thorough, timely and completely transparent with you.

We want you to understand the fair market value of the home—as well as how we arrived at that value—so you can move through the valuation process confident and assured you’re making smart decisions.


Unparalleled quality and attention to detail reduces the amount of back and forth with the bank’s underwriting department. Delivering accurate reports (the first time), will make the whole process go quickly and smoothly. Afterall, time is money.


Need an appraisal right away? We will make it happen on the timeline you need. We always deliver reports on or before the due date requested, respond promptly to revision requests, and make sure there are no delays in getting your appraisal completed.


We use the finest appraisal software in the industry, enabling our team to focus on thoughtful valuation and exceptional customer service. Professional, friendly, and always available to answer questions and make sure you are comfortable with the process. We focus on our clients’ challenges and continuously seek to improve the appraisal process.


Our firm has been around for 25+ years (formerly known as Southern Minnesota Appraisal Services). We have provided thousands of reliable, accurate, and timely appraisals to countless local and nation-wide mortgage providers, banks, private individuals and real estate agents.

The Inspection

So what goes into a real estate appraisal? It all starts with the inspection. An appraiser’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 one or more of the three approaches to determining the value of the real estate 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.

Income Approach

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.


In this final step, the appraiser will typically use one or two of the approaches in determining the estimated market value for the subject property (based on the needs of the appraisal and lender requirements). 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 appraiser will help you get the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.

Services We Provide

Appraisal services for mortgages, refinancing, construction loans or HELOC. The majority of home loans are ordered by a lender through a 3rd party called an Appraisal Management Company (AMC). Don’t leave your appraisal value to chance with a random appraiser. Fortunately, most direct lenders and some small banks will allow you to choose your appraiser. Since home values have been steadily on the rise, ask your mortgage company or lender if you are able to provide them with the name and contact information of your preferred appraiser.

Does your monthly mortgage payment include a PMI charge? Private Mortgage Insurance, sometimes called Mortgage Insurance Protection, is assessed on homeowners that have less than 20% equity in their home. By law, mortgage lenders are required to allow you to remove PMI once you reach the required equity. In other words, the principal balance of your loan needs to be at or below 80% of the original loan amount. Since home values have been steadily on the rise. It may be time to evaluate what your home is currently worth. After all…The additional cost of PMI can be hundreds of dollars a month!

Selling your home but not using a real estate agent? We can tell you how much your home is worth before you put it up for sale. In this ever-changing market, you need an accurate appraisal to make sure you aren’t under-valuing your property and leaving money on the table. Conversely, over-valuing your property will likely leave you with few showings and extended days on market.

If you are needing to settle an estate matter, or you have real estate assets that have been brought into probate court, you need a professional appraisal firm with experience providing reliable valuations.

When you need an unbiased 3rd party to help you determine value. Legal matters can bring about questions of a properties value both current and retrospective. Sensitive situations like separations, and divorces require expert service with a compassionate touch.

Whether you are looking to purchase or currently own investment property, there are many situations in which you may need an accurate appraisal to help with your financial planning. We appraise single family and multi-family properties for various portfolio uses

Protesting your property taxes can be a tough battle, but it is even harder to win if you do not go prepared. A current appraisal is the most effective tool you can take with you to your hearing. In most cases you can avoid a hearing altogether with a well written appraisal from a respected appraiser.

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