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Understanding the Appraisal Process

A home purchase is the most important transaction many of us will ever consider. Whether it's a primary residence, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most recognizable face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money necessary to bankroll the deal. And the title company makes sure that all areas of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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, what party makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? In comes 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 Anderson & Associates will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must physically see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly exist and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

After the inspection, we use 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.

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser pulls information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific 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 property in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or additional storage space, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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.

In the end, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Anderson & Associates, we are experts in knowing the value of particular items in Vancouver and Clark County neighborhoods. This approach to value is usually 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 an additional approach to value. In this situation, the amount of income the property generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Putting It All Together

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not always the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valuePrices can always be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. 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 get back in the event they had to put the property on the market again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Anderson & Associates will help you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.