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Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Buying a house can be the most serious investment some people may ever encounter. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

The majority of the people participating are very familiar. The most familiar face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the financial capital needed to bankroll the exchange. And the title company ensures that all areas of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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 property is worth the amount being paid? In comes 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.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, 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 property, ensuring the square footage is accurate and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Following 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

Here, we analyze information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the communities in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. 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 more accurately match the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter 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 valuing features of homes in Vancouver and Clark, Anderson & Associates is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is usually awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing approach to value is sometimes applied when an area has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the property produces is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to derive the current value.

Reconciliation

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it probably will 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'. 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 get back in the event they had to put the property on the market again. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Anderson & Associates will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.