Decoding the Appraisal Process

A home purchase can be the most important investment many people could ever encounter. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Most of the parties participating are quite familiar. The most known person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money required to fund the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that a clear title transfers to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

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So, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the property is consistent with 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 Steven W Backer, Appraiser/Consultant will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Steven W Backer, Appraiser/Consultant 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 condition a reasonable person 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 requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

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 building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to determine how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This estimate commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • 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.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

A true 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 putting a value on features of homes in Somers and Flathead, Steven W Backer, Appraiser/Consultant can't be beat. This approach to value is most often awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third approach to value. In this case, the amount of income the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Reconciliation

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While the appraised value is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final 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 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 Steven W Backer, Appraiser/Consultant will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.