Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Acquiring a home can be the most serious financial decision most might ever make. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

The majority of the people involved are very familiar. The most known entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. And ensuring all requirements of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

To learn more about appraising, click here to see a short video or call us today to talk about your specific property.

So, who's responsible for making sure the property is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer could expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Allen Appraisal Service will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

Our first responsibility at Allen Appraisal Service is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are there and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

After the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser uses information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to derive how much it would cost to build a property similar to the one being appraised. This value often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract 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.

After all differences have been accounted for, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. When it comes to putting a value on features of homes in Washington and Washington, Allen Appraisal Service is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing approach to value is sometimes used when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of income the real estate produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. Depending on the individual situations of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven 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 they could get back in the event they had to put the property on the market again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Allen Appraisal Service will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.