Home Appraisals: A Primer

Their home's purchase is the most significant financial decision most might ever encounter. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, an additional vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

The majority of the participants are very familiar. The most recognizable person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money required to finance the exchange. And the title company ensures that all aspects of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the buyer.

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 property is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. 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 Foothill Appraisals 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 conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is correct and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious features - 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 real property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Cost Approach

This is where we pull information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain 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 extra storage space, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has an irrigation system and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system 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.

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 valuing features of homes in Grass Valley and Nevada, Foothill Appraisals can't be beat. This approach to value is most often given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

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 income the property produces is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Reconciliation

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price 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.But the appraised value is often used 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 Foothill Appraisals will help you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.