What Goes Into an Appraisal?

A home purchase can be the biggest transaction some may ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Practically all the participants are quite familiar. The most recognizable entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the financial capital required to bankroll the deal. And the title company makes sure that all areas of the sale are completed and that a clear title transfers 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, who makes sure the value of the property is consistent with the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 RJE Real Estate Appraisal Service will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must actually see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are present and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage is accurate and describe the layout of the house, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - 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 the property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Cost Approach

Here, the appraiser uses information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional 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.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

An opinion of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At RJE Real Estate Appraisal Service, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most importance when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the most accurate indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price 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 get back in case they had to put the property on the market again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from RJE Real Estate Appraisal Service will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.