Making Sense of the Appraisal Process

Getting a house can be the largest investment most of us could ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

You're probably familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most known face in the exchange. Then, the bank provides the money needed to fund the exchange. The title company sees to it that all details of the exchange are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the buyer.

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So, who makes sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? 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 licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Central Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must actually see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are there and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and document the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Back at the office, 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

Here, the appraiser uses information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of 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 are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract 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. When it comes to knowing the true worth of features of homes in Philadelphia and Philadelphia, Central Appraisal Services can't be beat. This approach to value is commonly given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing real estate is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a measurable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueThere are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing 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 Central Appraisal Services will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.