Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the largest transaction most of us will ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

You're likely to be familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most familiar entity in the transaction. Next, the lender provides the money needed to fund the transaction. The title company makes sure that all requirements of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller.

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

So, who makes sure the value of the property is in line with the purchase price? 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 All City Appraisal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete 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 condition a reasonable person 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 includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or additional storage space, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject does not, 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.

An opinion of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in Woodland Hills and Los Angeles, All City Appraisal can't be beat. This approach to value is commonly given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of income the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Putting It All Together

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. It's not uncommon for prices to 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 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 sell the property again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from All City Appraisal will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.

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