Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the most significant financial decision most people may ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, an additional vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

You're probably familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most familiar face in the exchange. Then, the lender provides the financial capital required to finance the transaction. And ensuring all aspects of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

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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 estimate 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 Allstate Appraisal, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first duty at Allstate Appraisal, Inc. is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must physically see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

After the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, we pull information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to build a property similar to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • But, 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.

An opinion of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Allstate Appraisal, Inc. , we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Phoenix and Maricopa County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third approach to value. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. Depending on the specific 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 they could recover in the event they had to put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Allstate Appraisal, Inc. will guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.