Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Buying a home is the most serious investment most will ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most known person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money necessary to finance the transaction. And ensuring all areas of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the purchaser 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, who's responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer could expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Floyd Appraisal Works 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 physically see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really exist and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Back at the office, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, the appraiser pulls information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, if the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

An opinion 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 associating a value with features of homes in Hohenwald and Lewis, Floyd Appraisal Works is second to none. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

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 house. In this situation, the amount of revenue the property generates is factored in with income produced by comparable properties to derive the current value.

Reconciliation

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 at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valuePrices can always be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. 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 Floyd Appraisal Works will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.