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What Is an Appraisal?

Getting a home can be the biggest transaction most will ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most known entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the money needed to bankroll the exchange. The title company sees to it that all requirements of the exchange are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the purchaser.

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 is responsible for making sure the value of the real estate is in line with the amount being paid? 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 inspection

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are present and are in the condition a typical person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage is accurate and document the layout of the home, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Once the site has been inspected, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser pulls information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. 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.

  • For example, if the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

An opinion of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Anderson & Associates, we are an authority in knowing the worth 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 exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes applied when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the final sales price. 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 often used 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 Anderson & Associates will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.