Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Their home's purchase can be the biggest investment many of us might ever consider. Whether it's a primary residence, a seasonal vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Practically all the parties participating are very familiar. The most recognizable person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the money required to fund the transaction. The title company makes sure that all aspects of the exchange are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the purchaser.

To learn more about appraising, click here to see a short video or call us today to talk about your specific property.

So, who makes sure the value of the real estate is consistent with the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. 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.

Appraisals begin with the inspection

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed are there and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Following the inspection, we use 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.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser uses information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional 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 an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system 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 an amount 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 associating a value with features of homes in Prior Lake and Scott, Independent Valuation Services is your local authority. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

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 property. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. But the appraised value is often 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 put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Independent Valuation Services will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.