Comprehending Appraisals

Buying a house is the biggest transaction some of us could ever make. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, an additional vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most recognizable face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the financial capital required to fund the transaction. And the title company ensures that all requirements of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller.

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 is 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 property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Reliable Appraisals Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must physically view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really exist and are in the condition a typical person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and convey the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use 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 we pull information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This figure often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, if the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an 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. At Reliable Appraisals Inc., we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Berea and Madison County neighborhoods. This approach to value is most often given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes applied when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of income the real estate generates is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Examining the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the most accurate indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the final sales price. It's not uncommon for prices to be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. But 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Reliable Appraisals Inc. will help you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.