Decoding the Appraisal Process
Buying real estate is the most serious financial decision many people will ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.
Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most recognizable person in the exchange. Next, the bank provides the money needed to bankroll the deal. And the title company ensures that all requirements of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser.
So, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the real estate is in line with the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. 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 McRae Appraisals LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.
Appraisals begin with the home inspection
To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must physically see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage is accurate and convey the layout of the property, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on 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.
This is where the appraiser uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to figure out how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.
Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject.
After all differences have been accounted for, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At McRae Appraisals LLC, we are experts in knowing the value of real estate features in Cedar Falls and Black Hawk County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is usually awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.
Valuation Using the Income Approach
A third way of valuing real estate is sometimes used when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate yields is factored in with income produced by comparable properties to determine the current value.
The Bottom Line
Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the most reliable indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. 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'. But 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from McRae Appraisals LLC will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.