Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Getting real estate is the most significant investment some could ever consider. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, an additional vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most recognizable face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money required to finance the deal. And the title company ensures 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 is responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? 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 Office, LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must actually view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly exist and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is correct and illustrating the layout of the property. 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 the property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where we analyze information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. 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 property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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 Ely and Saint Louis, The Appraisal Office, LLC is second to none. This approach to value is typically awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use an additional way of valuing a house. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While this amount is probably the most accurate indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. 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 often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from The Appraisal Office, LLC will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.