Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the biggest financial decision some people could ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most known face in the exchange. Then, the mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to bankroll the exchange. And the title company sees to it that all aspects of the exchange are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the purchaser.

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

So, who makes sure the property is worth the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. 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 ACME Appraisal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

Our first duty at ACME Appraisal is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed are present and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage is accurate and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Following the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser pulls information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • In the case where the subject has something such as an extra half bath that a comparable doesn't have, the appraiser might add the value of that bath 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. At ACME Appraisal, we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Bluffton and Allen County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing approach to value is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the property produces is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from ACME Appraisal will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.