What Are the Components of an Appraisal?
Buying a house can be the biggest financial decision most will ever make. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.
Most of the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable face in the transaction. Next, the bank provides the money required to fund the exchange. And ensuring all aspects of the exchange are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the buyer is the title company.
So, what party makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer might expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Highlands Appraisal 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 perform a thorough inspection. We must physically see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really 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 illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.
After the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.
Here, we pull information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.
Appraisers get to know 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 the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of 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 more accurately match the features of subject.
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. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in Petaluma and Sonoma, Highlands Appraisal can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home sale.
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 scenario, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to give an indicator of the current value.
Putting It All Together
Combining information from all 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 the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. 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'. But the appraised value is typically employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Highlands Appraisal will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.