Appraisers use several factors when estimating value including historical records, property performance, condition of the home and indices that forecast future value. For detailed information on appraisal standards, contact the Appraisal Institute at 875 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60611-1980; (312) 335-4458.
For information about housing discrimination, call the U.S. Department of Justice at (202) 514-2000, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW DC 20530 or your local U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development office.
For detailed information, the booklet, “Your Loan is Denied, Defending Yourself Against Mortgage Lending Discrimination,” is available from the Center for Investigative Reporting, 500 Howard Street, Suite 206, San Francisco, CA 94105-3008 or call (415) 543-1200.
For more on closing costs, ask for the “Consumer’s Guide to Mortgage Settlement Costs,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Public Information Department, P.O. Box 7702, San Francisco, CA 94120, or call (415) 974-2163.
A real estate agent is a good source for finding out the status of the local housing market. So is your statewide association of REALTORS®, most of which are continuously compiling such statistics from local real estate boards.
For overall housing statistics, U.S. Housing Markets regularly publishes quarterly reports on home building and home buying. Your local builders association probably gets this report. If not, the housing research firm is located in Canton, Mich.; call (800) 755-6269 for information; the firm also maintains an Internet site. Finally, check with the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington, D.C.; (301) 495-4700. The census bureau also maintains a site on the Internet. The Chicago Title company also has published a pamphlet, “Who’s Buying Homes in America.” Write Chicago Title and Trust Family of Title Insurers, 171 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60601-3294.
To reach the Internal Revenue Service, call (800) TAX-1040.
To find a real estate attorney, contact your local bar association, which may offer local referral services. You may also ask friends or your real estate agent for their recommendations. When you have several names, call each to find out about fees and their level of experience.
Your realty agent is one source. Inspectors are listed in the yellow pages. You can ask for referrals from friends. Ask for their credentials, such as contractor’s license or engineering certificate. Also, check out their references.