Making Sense of the Appraisal Process

Getting real estate is the most serious transaction most might ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Most of the participants are quite familiar. The most known person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital needed to bankroll the exchange. And the title company sees to it that all aspects of the sale 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 makes sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? This is where you meet the appraiser. 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 The Appraisal Firm will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed are there and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage is accurate and document the layout of the home, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

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

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate often sets the maximum 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 appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, 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.

Once all necessary adjustments have been made, 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 associating a value with features of homes in Escondido and San Diego, The Appraisal Firm is your local authority. This approach to value is typically awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home 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 real estate generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Examining the data from all applicable 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 what's being paid for the property 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'. But the appraised value is typically employed 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from The Appraisal Firm will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.