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Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Buying real estate can be the most serious transaction most of us could ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Most of the parties participating are quite familiar. The most familiar face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the financial capital necessary to bankroll the exchange. And the title company makes sure that all requirements of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer 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, who's responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer could 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 Accufast Appraisal Services, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the home inspection

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must physically see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and convey 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 affect the value of the property.

Following the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the 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 building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), 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 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 home.
  • 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. At Accufast Appraisal Services, Inc., we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Fairview Park and Cuyahoga County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate 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 scenario, the amount of revenue the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all 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 necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Prices can always 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 employed 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 Accufast Appraisal Services, Inc. will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.