Home Appraisals: A Primer

Purchasing real estate can be the largest financial decision some will ever make. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

The majority of the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable face in the exchange. Then, the lender provides the money required to fund the transaction. And the title company ensures that all aspects of the exchange are completed and that a clear title transfers 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, what party makes sure the value of the property is in line with the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Summit Appraisal Group, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the inspection

Our first duty at Summit Appraisal Group, Inc. is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed exist and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Next, after the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, we gather information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to determine how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, additional 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 property.

  • For example, if the comparable property 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.
  • 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.

A true estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to valuing features of homes in Stayton and Marion, Summit Appraisal Group, Inc. is your local authority. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing real estate is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. Depending on the individual circumstances of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Summit Appraisal Group, Inc. will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.