Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Their home's purchase can be the most important financial decision many people could ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

You're likely to be familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most known face in the transaction. Next, the lender provides the money necessary to bankroll the deal. And ensuring all areas of the sale 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 is responsible for making sure the property is worth the purchase price? In comes 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

Our first responsibility at The Appraisal Firm is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. 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 condition a reasonable buyer 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 identify any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

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

Replacement Cost

This is where we use information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to construct a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. By assigning a dollar value to 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 property.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, if the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount 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 The Appraisal Firm, we are experts in knowing the worth of particular items in Escondido and San Diego County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight 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 - we may use a third way of valuing a property. In this case, the amount of revenue the property produces is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

Reconciliation

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. 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 the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from The Appraisal Firm will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.