Decoding the Appraisal Process

Acquiring real estate can be the biggest financial decision some of us might ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most familiar face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital needed to finance the transaction. And ensuring all areas of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser 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 value of 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 could expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from All City Appraisal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

Our first task at All City Appraisal is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must physically view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are there and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - 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

This is where we gather information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to derive how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject at hand. 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.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • But, in the case where the subject has something such as an extra half bath that a comparable doesn't have, the appraiser might add the value of that bath 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. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in Woodland Hills and Los Angeles, All City Appraisal is your local authority. This approach to value is usually given the most weight 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 a third method of valuing a property. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valuePrices can always be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. But the appraised value is often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from All City Appraisal will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.

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