Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Purchasing a home can be the biggest financial decision some people will ever consider. Whether it's a primary residence, a seasonal vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Most of the people participating are quite familiar. The most known entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the financial capital needed to fund the exchange. And ensuring all requirements of the exchange are completed and that a clear title transfers to the buyer from the seller 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, what party makes sure the value of the real estate is in line with the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer might expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from ASAP Appraisal Services, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the property inspection

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are present and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is correct and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Back at the office, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser gathers information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to construct a property comparable to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is 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 residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. 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), we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, 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.

In the end, 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 valuing features of homes in Mesa and Maricopa, ASAP Appraisal Services, Inc. is second to none. This approach to value is typically awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes used when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of revenue the property yields 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 applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueThere are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is typically employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from ASAP Appraisal Services, Inc. will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.