An Overview of the Appraisal Process

Acquiring real estate can be the most important investment many may ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most familiar face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the money necessary to bankroll the exchange. And ensuring all requirements of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

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So, what party makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? This is where you meet 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 will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the home inspection

Our first responsibility at is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, 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 accurate 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.

Following the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

Here, we analyze information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly 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 subject in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable 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 home.
  • However, if the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

In the end, 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 and Nevada, can't be beat. This approach to value is most often given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes used when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. But the appraised value is often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could recover in case they had to sell the property again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.