What Is an Appraisal?

Getting real estate is the biggest financial decision some of us may ever make. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most known entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the money required to bankroll the deal. And ensuring all requirements of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the buyer is the title company.

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So, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the real estate is in line with the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Steven W Backer, Appraiser/Consultant will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the property inspection

Our first responsibility at Steven W Backer, Appraiser/Consultant is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must actually view aspects of the property, 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 buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the house, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

After the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where we pull information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately portray the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, if the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

A valid estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Steven W Backer, Appraiser/Consultant, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the value of real estate features in Somers and Flathead County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing real estate is sometimes applied when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate yields is factored in 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 state an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. 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 employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in the event they had to sell the property again. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Steven W Backer, Appraiser/Consultant will guarantee you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.