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Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the most important investment many of us will ever make. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money required to bankroll the deal. The title company makes sure that all areas of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the purchaser.

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 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 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 Barnes Appraisal Company will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the inspection

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must physically see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they really 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 proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, we use information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. By assigning a dollar value to 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 portray the features of subject property.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an irrigation system and the subject does not, 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.

A valid estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to knowing the true worth of features of homes in Lawton and Comanche, Barnes Appraisal Company is your local authority. This approach to value is commonly given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

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 real estate produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Examining the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property 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.Regardless, the appraised value is often 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 Barnes Appraisal Company will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.