What Is an Appraisal?

Purchasing real estate is the most important investment many people could ever make. Whether it's a primary residence, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most known person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the financial capital required to bankroll the transaction. The title company ensures that all aspects of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer 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, what party 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 Timberline 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, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are present and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and describe the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

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

Replacement Cost

Here, we use information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This figure usually 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 specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property at hand. Using knowledge of the value of 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 portray the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property 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.
  • But, 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.

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. At Timberline Appraisals, we are an authority in knowing the worth of real estate features in Brodhead and Green County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically given the most consideration 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 a third method of valuing real estate. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate produces is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all 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 what's being paid for the property 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'. Regardless, the appraised value is typically used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Timberline Appraisals will help you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.