Home Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the most important investment some of us could ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most recognizable person in the exchange. Then, the lender provides the money needed to bankroll the exchange. The title company makes sure that all requirements of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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 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 property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Martin Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Martin Appraisal Services is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed are present and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is accurate and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

After the inspection, 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.

Replacement Cost

Here, we analyze information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to derive 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 become very familiar with the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath 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.

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 knowing the true worth of features of homes in Madison and Dane, Martin Appraisal Services is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use an additional way of valuing a property. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate produces is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While the appraised value is probably the most reliable indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. It's not uncommon for prices to be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. Regardless, the appraised value is typically used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Martin Appraisal Services will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.