Understanding Appraisals

Acquiring a home can be the most significant financial decision most people will ever make. Whether it's a main residence, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

You're probably familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most known person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. And ensuring all details of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the buyer is the title company.

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

So, what party makes sure the property 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 American Appraisal, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are there 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 describe the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for 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 the property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where we gather information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property similar to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, additional bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct 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. At American Appraisal, Inc., we are an authority in knowing the worth of particular items in Bakersfield and Kern County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is usually given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a property is sometimes used when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Reconciliation

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is often 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 American Appraisal, Inc. will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.