Non-Lending Private Home Appraisals

Private use appraisals are perfect for any request wherein a valuation is required to be applied to a piece of real estate, but the appraisal isn’t to be used by a bank or lender. These are “user-friendly”, easy to understand and appropriate for several situations.  An independent home appraisal is commonly used as a pre-listing tool to set a listing value and help sell a home at the best price.

As the name implies, they are intended for private use, yet they contain all the information and detail you would find in a full “mortgage appraisal”. The appraisal process used to develop a private appraisal is identical to its mortgage appraisal counter-part, following the same standards and research methods, but the reporting format is much more straightforward. A private appraisal is a full appraisal and includes all the same steps, research, market analysis and appraiser conclusions for final value.

For times when you just need to “know what it’s worth”, the private appraisal report provides a more detailed analysis and definitive opinion of value.  A comparative market analysis (CMA) can also give an owner an idea what their home is worth, but it is prepared by real estate agents and not considered a legal “opinion of value.”

What does the private real estate appraisal report consist of?

  • A property inspection where I measure, take photos & take notes
  • A summary of the physical characteristics of the house; its features, improvements, quality of build, etc.
  • A summary of the neighborhood, external influences, and value trends in addition to stats
  • A thorough examination of similar real estate in the market area
  • Exterior and interior pictures from the subject property
  • Location along with flood charts showing the subject and comparables
  • A floor plan indicating gross living area (GLA) measured to ANSI standards.
  • A statement of the opinion of value authorized and dated by the appraiser

The outcome of the real estate appraisal process is a detailed report that is easy to read and understand for everyone. The report helps people to know the estimated value of a property.

Divorce Appraisal

“Who gets the house in divorce?” is a complicated question; the answer, not surprisingly, is “It depends.”  Texas is a community property state.  There are generally two options regarding the house – it can be sold and the proceeds divided, or one party can “buy out” the other. In either case, one or both parties should order an appraisal of the residence. Divorce appraisals require a well supported, professional appraisal that is defensible in court. When you order an appraisal from Castle Black, you are assured that you will get the best in professional service, courtesy, and the highest quality appraisal. Discretion and confidentiality are important when handling the sensitive needs of a divorce situation.

Dividing assets in divorce

A professional appraisal will provide you with the most probable, “as-is” sales price of your home in the current market. This estimate of value will help your and your legal counsel calculate divorce equity in the home and determine whether you will sell the property and split the proceeds, or whether one spouse/partner will buyout the other.

Attorneys and Accountants rely on the independent appraiser when calculating real property values for estates, divorces, or other disputes requiring a value being placed on real property. Castle Black understands their needs and is used to dealing with all parties involved. My appraisal reports meet the requirements of the courts and various agencies.

As an attorney handling a divorce, your needs oftentimes include an appraisal to establish fair market value for the residential real estate involved. Often the divorce date differs from the date you order the appraisal. Castle Black is familiar with the procedures and requirements necessary to perform a retroactive appraisal with an effective date and Fair Market Value estimate matching the date of divorce. The ethics provision within the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) binds us with confidentiality, ensuring the fullest degree of discretion.

How to Eliminate Private Mortgage Insurance

What is PMI?

PMI is the common abbreviation for Private Mortgage Insurance. This added policy covers the lender in the event a borrower is unable to pay on the loan and the value of the home is less than the loan balance. You can have your PMI dropped once you’ve achieved 20% equity in your home through appreciation and principal payments.

When Can You Cancel PMI

Even if you haven’t paid down your mortgage to the required limit, you may consider requesting your PMI be canceled as soon as you suspect your home’s equity has reached 20%.  Your home’s value may have risen with local property values or simply because you’ve remodeled or made additions. Either way such value-based rises in equity are harder to prove to your lender and some lenders require you to wait a minimum time (around two years) before they will approve cancellation of PMI on this basis. The Homeowners Protection Act, which applies to single family principal residences that closed on or after July 29,1999, indicates one other way you can stop paying for PMI.  If you are current on payments and comply with the terms of your mortgage you may request an evaluation to show the value of the property hasn’t gone down and you have not encumbered it with liens (such as a second mortgage). If you meet all these conditions the lender must grant your request to cancel the PMI. Visit to learn more. Contact Castle Black Appraisal for a quote today.

How to Get Rid of PMI

The process to request pmi removal will vary between lenders and the company from whom your lender buys the insurance.  In most cases you’ll never deal with the lender’s insurance company directly. These are the most common steps you’ll need to take to begin the process of PMI removal: Write a letter to your mortgage lender, formally requesting guidelines.  Of course, you may want to expedite the process by following up with a call to learn the appropriate PMI cancellation procedures. Order a real estate appraisal. Get your home appraised by a professional to find out its current market value. Your lender may require an appraisal even if you’re asking for a cancellation based on your many payments, since the lender needs reassurance that the home hasn’t declined in value. Calculate your “loan to value” (LTV) ratio using the results of the appraisal by dividing your loan amount by your properties indicated value. Compare your “loan to value” (LTV) ratio to that required by the lender. Most lenders require that your LTV ratio be 80% or lower before they will cancel your PMI. Note: Some lenders express the percentage in reverse, requiring at least 20% equity in the property, for example. If the loan to value ratio is at the percentage required by your lender, follow the lender’s stated procedures for requesting a PMI cancellation. Plan to write another letter with your request, stating your home’s current value and your remaining debt amount, and including a copy of the appraisal report.

Valuations of real estate for estates and probate.

As an executor, settling an estate can be a crucial and daunting responsibility. You have been entrusted with the task of fulfilling the wishes of the deceased as efficiently and accurately as possible. Rest assured, we will act promptly and with consideration for the emotions of all those involved.

When attorneys and accountants need to determine the value of real estate for estate settlements, divorce proceedings, or other legal disputes, they rely on Castle Black’s expertise. We are accustomed to working with all parties involved and understand their requirements. Our appraisal reports are compliant with court and agency standards.

Settling an estate usually requires an appraisal to establish Fair Market Value for the residential property involved. Often, the date of death differs from the date the appraisal is requested. We are familiar with the procedures and requirements necessary to perform a retroactive appraisal with an effective date and Fair Market Value estimate matching the date of death. The ethics provision within the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) binds us with confidentiality, ensuring the fullest degree of discretion.

Date of Death Appraisals & the IRS

Estate tax liability, Disposition of assets under a will or in probate court it seems there are many situations when a retrospective appraisal is needed. Most situations are stressful and complex enough so let us conduct an appraisal of property that states an opinion of what the property was worth on a date some time ago, rather than when the appraisal is ordered. For estate tax purposes or disposition of the assets of a decedent, a “date of death” valuation is often required. (Sometimes, the executor of the estate may choose to have the date be six months after the date of death — but the same principles apply.)

Attorneys, accountants, and executors can rely on Castle Black Appraisal for “date of death” valuations because such appraisals require special expertise and training. They require an appraiser that’s familiar with the market area and can effectively research comparable sales.

Property Bond For Bail

If the defendant or their loved ones can’t afford to pay cash bail they can choose to get a property bond. Whoever works with the bondsmen to secure a property bond can use their home equity as collateral.

Using a property bond for bail can be a risky option since the defendant risks losing their property if they do not comply with the conditions of their release or fail to appear in court.

It’s recommended to seek legal counsel and consider all options before deciding to use a property bond for bail.

What Is Bail?

Bail refers to the money an accused person pays to be released from custody while awaiting trial, while a bond is a monetary promise made by a bond company hired by the defendant to pay the bail amount. This means that bail can either be a personal bond or a bail bond.

For instance, if a court sets bail at $60,000 upon arrest, the accused can pay the bail amount directly if they have the funds. However, if they cannot afford it, they can opt for a bail bond. A bail bond is a legal agreement between the defendant and a bond company, where the bond company posts the bail and assures the court that the defendant will attend all trials.

How long do you stay in jail?

If a bail bond is posted, the court will release the accused, pending trial. However, if the bail is not posted, the accused will remain in custody until the trial. Texas law requires bail bond companies to be licensed by the state before their bail bonds can be accepted.

Putting your house up for bail

A Property Bond for Bail is a type of bail bond that allows a defendant to use their property as collateral to secure their release from jail while they await trial. This process is available in some jurisdictions and allows a defendant or their representative to put up their property, such as a house or land, as collateral for the bail bond.

First, the defendant or their representative must find a bail bondsman or agency that accepts property bonds. The bail bondsman will evaluate the property to determine its value and eligibility for use as collateral. They may also conduct a background check and ask for additional information about the defendant’s case.

Once the bail bondsman approves the property bond, the defendant or their representative will sign a contract that outlines the terms and conditions of the bond. This may include the amount of bail, the value of the property, and any fees or interest associated with the bond.

After the contract is signed and the property is approved, the bail bondsman will file a lien on the property with the court to secure the bond. If the defendant fails to appear in court or violates any conditions of their release, the court can seize the property to satisfy the bail bond.

If the defendant appears in court as required and the case is resolved, the lien on the property will be released, and the property will be returned to the defendant or their representative.  Request a quote for a real estate appraisal from Castle Black today.