Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Acquiring real estate can be the most significant investment most people may ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Most of the participants are quite familiar. The most known person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the financial capital needed to finance the deal. The title company ensures that all requirements of the sale are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the purchaser.

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 LHC Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

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, living areas, etc, to ensure they indeed are there and are in the shape a typical buyer 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 identifies any obvious amenities - 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 the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • Say, 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, 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.

A true estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At LHC Appraisals, we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Denton and Denton County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes used when an area has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of income the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. 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 what a property is worth. Depending on the individual circumstances of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down.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 case they had to put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from LHC Appraisals will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.

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