What Are the Parts of an Appraisal?

Acquiring real estate is the most significant investment some might ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Most of the participants are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most known face in the transaction. Next, the lender provides the money necessary to fund the exchange. The title company sees to it that all requirements of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the buyer.

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So, what party makes sure the property is worth the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer could 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 Spencer Appraisal Services, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are there and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property is accurate and describe the layout of the house, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

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

Replacement Cost

Here, we analyze information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray 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.

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. When it comes to putting a value on features of homes in Abington and Montgomery, Spencer Appraisal Services, Inc. can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing real estate is sometimes applied when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Putting It All Together

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. Regardless, 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Spencer Appraisal Services, Inc. will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.