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Understanding Appraisals

A home purchase is the largest investment some might ever make. Whether it's a main residence, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Most of the participants are quite familiar. The most recognizable person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the financial capital 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 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 value of the property is in line with the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. 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 Anderson & Associates will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the home inspection

Our first responsibility at Anderson & Associates is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must actually see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed are there and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and describe the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

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

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This figure commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property 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.
  • However, if the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

A valid estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to valuing features of homes in Vancouver and Clark, Anderson & Associates is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is most often given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

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

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueThere are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is typically employed 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 sell the property again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Anderson & Associates will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.