What are the parts of an appraisal?

One's home purchase can be the biggest investment some people might ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

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

The majority of the parties participating are quite familiar. The most recognizable entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the money needed to bankroll the deal. The title company ensures that all areas of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller.

So who's responsible for making sure the real estate is consistent with the purchase price?   This is where the appraiser comes in.   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 professional Pennsylvania licensed appraiser from A.C. Read Appraisal Service will ensure you as an interested party are informed.

Appraisals start with the inspection

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc., to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the property, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floor plan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

After the inspection, an appraiser employs two or three approaches when determining the value of the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, we use information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they work. We thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. 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 portray the features of subject property.

  • If, for example, the comparable 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.
  • 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.
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. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly 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 - the appraiser may use an additional way of valuing real estate. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate yields is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a house would sell for in an open market, it may not be the final sales price. Depending on the specific situations of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is often 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 put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this: An appraiser from A.C. Read Appraisal Service will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.