Home Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the most important investment many of us may ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

You're likely to be familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most known face in the exchange. Next, the bank provides the financial capital needed to bankroll the deal. And the title company makes sure that all requirements of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes 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, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the property is in line with the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 APPRAISAL EXPERTS, LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the home inspection

Our first duty at APPRAISAL EXPERTS, LLC is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they indeed are present and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, 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 have an impact on the value of the house.

After the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the subdivisions in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, extra 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.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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.

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 APPRAISAL EXPERTS, LLC, we are an authority in knowing the value of real estate features in Saint Louis and Saint Louis County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically 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 - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Reconciliation

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from APPRAISAL EXPERTS, LLC will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.