What Goes Into an Appraisal?

Purchasing real estate is the most important transaction most may ever consider. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a second vacation home or an investment, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Practically all the participants are quite familiar. The most familiar person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money needed to bankroll the deal. The title company sees to it that all aspects of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser.

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So, what party makes sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Timberline Appraisals is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed exist and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and describe the layout of the house, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for 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 we gather information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to build a property similar to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers get to know the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable 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.
  • 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.

After all differences have been accounted for, 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 knowing the true value of features of homes in Brodhead and Green, Timberline Appraisals can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is typically given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes applied when a neighborhood has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with income produced by comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While the appraised value is probably the strongest 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 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 guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.