Understanding the Appraisal Process

Purchasing a home is the biggest financial decision some will ever make. Whether it's a main residence, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Practically all the participants are very familiar. The most familiar person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital required to bankroll the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

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 makes sure the value of the property is consistent with the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. 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 Baker Appraisal Services, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

Our first responsibility at Baker Appraisal Services, Inc. is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly exist and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage is accurate and document the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Once the site has been inspected, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser gathers 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. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, 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 property 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.
  • 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.

An opinion of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Baker Appraisal Services, Inc., we are experts when it comes to knowing the value of real estate features in Camden and Kent County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is usually awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the property yields is factored in with income produced by comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Reconciliation

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, 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 the property is actually worth. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Baker Appraisal Services, Inc. will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.