Decoding the Appraisal Process

Purchasing real estate can be the biggest investment many could ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Practically all the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the transaction. Then, the lender provides the money needed to fund the deal. And the title company ensures that all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser.

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So, who's responsible for making sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? In comes 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 Evelyn Donica Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really are present and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is proper and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, 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.

Cost Approach

This is where we use information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, additional bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount 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 Hatfield and Polk, Evelyn Donica Appraisals is second to none. This approach to value is usually given the most importance 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 an additional approach to value. In this situation, the amount of income the real estate produces is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to determine the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is typically employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could recover in case they had to sell the property again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Evelyn Donica Appraisals will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.