Understanding Appraisals

Their home's purchase can be the most serious investment some of us might ever encounter. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation property or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

You're likely to be familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most known entity in the transaction. Next, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to fund the transaction. And ensuring all requirements of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

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So, who makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? In comes 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 R.M. Rose will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed exist and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is accurate and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Following the inspection, we use 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.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser pulls information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to determine how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value commonly 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 are intimately familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular 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 being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of 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 are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has an irrigation system and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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.

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. At R.M. Rose, we are an authority in knowing the value of particular items in Huntingdon Valley and Montgomery County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use an additional approach to value. In this situation, the amount of income the real estate generates 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

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the final sales price. 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 R.M. Rose will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.