Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Acquiring a home can be the most serious investment most of us could ever make. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a second vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most familiar entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money necessary to finance the exchange. And ensuring all requirements of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes 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, who's responsible for making sure the property is worth the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer might 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 Independent Valuation Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly 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 correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Back at the office, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

Here, we gather information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property comparable to the one being appraised. This figure commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, 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 a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, 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.

A valid estimate 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 knowing the true value of features of homes in Prior Lake and Scott, Independent Valuation Services can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is usually awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of income the property produces is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not always the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. 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 they could get back in case they had to sell the property again. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Independent Valuation Services will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.