Property Owners & Investors – Direct Engagements has made a concerted shift in our business focus from mortgage lending clients to valuation services geared directly to and for private property owners and investors.  This page will demonstrate the benefits of engaging directly with our firm at a reduced cost also obtain an appraisal report written and developed by an MAI and SRA designated appraiser of the Appraisal Institute.  The appraisal will contain the analysis and supported value opinion that can be relied upon and accepted by a broad range users such as the Internal Revenue Service, Courts and Loan Financing.  Engaging directly with an MAI / SRA Designated appraiser is the best guarantee that the appraisal will contain the necessary analysis and value accuracy demanded by end user of the report. 


Many private property owner clients do not normally deal with real estate valuation issues and that our recommendations of the most fitting appraisal format solution whether the report is intended for an estate tax filing or making a decision on buying or selling real estate. 


Our office receives many referrals from property owners, realtors, accountants and the legal community primarily because they know will provide the most cost effective proposal depending on the purpose and use of the appraisal.  Its important to us that that our clients have a clear understanding of appraisal fees and why fees are sometimes modified depending on the use of the appraisal.   


For instance, an appraisal report on a semi-custom residence for obtaining a mortgage loan may have a base fee of say $350.00.  That fee may be below the indicated $350.00 fee if the lender does not require a cost approach or only an Exterior Drive-by inspection is needed.  On the other hand, if the same residence needs to be appraised for a divorce settlement, bankruptcy or court of law, the fee may be higher.  


An appraisal to determine a reasonable listing price on a residence may necessitate a condensed Summary or Restricted Form due to time factors.  An appraisal prepared because of a divorce / property dissolution may necessitate a more detailed written report because there appraisal is prepared and read for users with opposing motivations and the appraisal could be used in   These are just some of the issues that affect the appraisal format and cost proposals we develop specifically for each property owner,   focusing on the client’s particular real estate problem. 


Date of Death Appraisals  (DOD)


The most common type of appraisal request that our office receives from private property owners are Date of Death Appraisals for Probate and Estate IRS reporting purposes.  Many of the requests are direct engagements from one of the heirs, relatives or trustee of the estate.  Estate planning can be very complex and is subject to changing tax regulations.  It is important for property owners to seek professional advice and work closely with their Estate Attorney, CPA or Financial Planner and obtain accurate information on the property or properties that need to be appraised and the effective date or dates of value. 


As experienced valuation professionals, specializes in appraisals for date of death appraisals in conjunction with small estate of one or more single-family dwellings to larger portfolios of commercial and investment property real estate. understands that for some of our clients dealing with IRS tax filing requirements can be daunting, especially after a loved one has recently passed.  Please telephone our office directly and we will be happy to answer any questions on the IRS valuation process and if needed, refer you to a qualified accountant for estate reporting and tax filing.  We work hard to provide the client accurate information and to make the appraisal process as smoothly as possible.   


Some assignments require that we develop a Retrospective Appraisal.  These are appraisals that require an effective value date in the past, from six months prior or many years in the past of the date of death or other date.  These are often difficult valuation assignments, and you can be assured that our firm has the capability and credentials to complete these types of reports and access to market data sources going back 20 years or more.  .  


We will attempt to answer any questions as honestly and recommend and a proposal at the lowest possible cost that is we know is acceptable to the IRS.  We will also at our clients request work and consult with your CPA or Financial Planner so that there is a clear understanding of  the appraisal format and value dates needed for IRS tax reporting. 


We have found that by following  appropriate appraisal procedures  and  complying with IRS valuation guidelines often saves the estate and tax payer money in the long run and the heirs have the piece of mind that the fair market value of the real estate and  hold up under IRS audit and minimize the risk  of  future tax liability. will only recommend a valuation proposal that is known to be acceptable and complies with IRS valuation guidelines.    


Please be suspicious of quotes from appraisers with focus on mortgage valuation work.  We have seen mortgage appraisers quote very low fees for valuation products that are inadequate for IRS  purposes or  conversely  could be considered  “overkill,”  a very high fee quotes for extensive valuation services  that are simply not necessary.  


We try to find the most reasonable and cost effective valuation solution for the client’s specific assignment.  When it comes to the IRS, one size does not fit all.  Please contact our office for a no obligation consult and proposal. 






Divorce & Partnership Dissolutions


Other common appraisal requests that we receive from property owners and referrals from the legal community are appraisals for divorce settlement and martial dissolutions.  Residential & Commercial Appraisers of Southern California’s  high volume of appraisal requests for use in divorce proceedings  are due to several factors.    


  • Scott Pettifer, MAI, SRA, CRP has credentials that are acknowledged and accepted by courts and appraisal users in the legal community. 


  • Specifically, the MAI Designation awarded by the Appraisal Institute and held by Scott Pettifer is the most recognized designation by judges and attorneys.  Having an MAI designation is almost a prerequisite for disposition and expert witness testimony. 


  • Mr. Pettifer also holds the SRA Designation with the Appraisal Institute.  The SRA Designation is awarded for demonstrating a high level of ability and experience in residential appraising. 


  • Mr. Pettifer other associate memberships and real estate licenses only add to his qualifications as an accomplished and impartial expert witness.  Please see the CV  / Qualifications Page from this Web site’s Home Page. 


Partnership Dissolutions


Appraisals for partnership dissolutions are similar to assignments for asset distribution or property buy-out.  Partnership dissolutions usually include commercial property assets or a mix of residential and commercial real estate.  These assignments can involve one single-family residence to a large portfolio of residential and commercial real estate. has completed these assignments for  many different user types, including martial partnerships, corporate buy-out of a directors / major shareholder interest in the company owned real estate and of course Family Limited Partnerships and similar legal entities.   


This type of valuation assignment is often more difficult than appraising real estate in an Estate or Trust portfolio.  The valuation of any type of partnership for dissolution usually involves partners with opposing interests and possible hostility.  Its important for the appraisal firm have the experience and ability to accurately value a wide range of property types and communicate those conclusions in a report that is detailed in nature and written in a clear manner that can be understood by all intended users. 


Pre-Listing /  Buyer Appraisals accepts appraisal assignments from buyers, property sellers, realtors and real estate brokers and trustee’s for an estate or a ensuing court action  Professionals responsible for listing and selling real estate often need assistance to determine reasonable listing or an eventual market sale price.  Court actions, partnerships and the liquidation of real estate assets often require appraisals from a MAI appraiser as a condition of the sale. 


The range of valuation products for this type of assignment can vary depending on the clients needs.  A client that desires an accurate single point listing price to a range of market prices are often content with a  low cost Limited, Restricted Report.  The restricted format is also ideal for buyers thinking of purchasing a dwelling or apartment building due to the lower cost and faster turnaround that a Restricted Report can be completed.  Clients that require more detail, or if the appraisal is needed for Court approval or future marketing purposes, a more detailed appraisal format can be chosen.  ,


Finally, appraisals used to determine a listing price for sellers and from the opposite perspective, buyer negotiations, are not usually simple valuation assignments.  An appraisal that adds value to a seller or buyer of real estate has to contain more detailed and current data that is usually contained in a mortgage loan appraisal.  Its imperative that the assignment focus on current  “for sale”  properties, rather than prior sold properties.  Many appraisers do not understand that concept and mirror the actions of past market trends.  Only if the appraiser develops an analysis and investigation into current and future market trends would the value opinion be useful to a seller or buyer.  Many appraisers cannot comprehend the crucial fact, historical sales data does not automatically equate to current or future real estate prices.  Understanding that statement is a fundamental concept accepted by real estate agents and brokers in Southern California and should be for appraisers. appraisals prepared for establishing an appropriate listing price or from a buyers perspective, determining a realistic market price can provide value added explanation and interpretation of future market trends that is critical for accurate listing and buyer negotiation assignments.  Scott Pettifer, MAI, SRA  has been a licensed real estate broker for 25 years and adds insight from a broker perspective that few other appraisers are capable.  Our goal is to include an adequate amount of current and forecasted market trend data, so that our client, the sellers will not leave any money on the floor after the sale transaction is completed.  Our client, a buyer  that is considering the purchase of a commercial or investment property,  has the most similar historical, pending and current listing data so that the buyers can negotiate to buy a specific property with complete knowledge of all market sales.  Alternatively, the buyer with useable market data from our appraisal can walk away from an overpriced transaction. 


Its important to our firm that our appraisals contain information that our clients need to make intelligent real estate decisions. 


Tax Appeal  prepares  appraisals for Tax Appeal purposes on a per assignment quote basis for property owners.  Per the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice -USPAP- appraisers are not permitted to complete tax appeal assignments on a contingency basis. 


California’s real estate tax policy is dominated by Proposition 13, enacted by the state voters in 1978.   Proposition 13 limits base real estate taxes to 1% of fair market value or sale price of a property with increases limited to 2% annually.  Tax appeals were common in the early 1990’s when real estate prices were declining and real estate values were below that of the current assessed valuations. is projecting an increase in tax appeal cases over the next several years as real estate property prices begin to level off and possibly decline in some markets and property types.  Proposition 13 imposes a 1% base tax rate usually on the sale price and can increase the assessed property value if new construction or extensive tenant / building improvements.  If property value increases begin to slow or decline, property owners may find their homes / apartment or investment property assessed value higher than the current market value of the real estate. 


The scenario is expected to be more common in the future and will be available for consultation.  Please contact our office if you have an ownership interest in a property that may be taxed in excess of  California’s Proposition 13 law.  We will be glad to answer questions and conduct some preliminary research to help determine if pursing a tax appeal is realistic.