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Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Acquiring real estate is the most serious investment most people may ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Most of the participants are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable person in the transaction. Next, the bank provides the money required to bankroll the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the transaction 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 is responsible for making sure the value of the real estate is consistent 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 Gordon Appraisal Company, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must physically see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are there and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, 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.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser analyzes information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. 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 fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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. When it comes to valuing features of homes in Lincoln and Providence, Gordon Appraisal Company, Inc. is second to none. This approach to value is most often awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Prices can always 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 used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in case they had to sell the property again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Gordon Appraisal Company, Inc. will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.