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Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Their home's purchase can be the biggest investment some might ever encounter. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most known face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money necessary to finance the deal. And ensuring all details of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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 purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer might 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 Gordon Appraisal Company, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and document the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

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.

Replacement Cost

This is where we pull information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to determine how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This estimate commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the communities in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, 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.
  • 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 Gordon Appraisal Company, Inc., we are experts when it comes to knowing the value of particular items in Lincoln and Providence County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is typically given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

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 case, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueIt'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'. Regardless, 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 Gordon Appraisal Company, Inc. will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.