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What Is an Appraisal?

Their home's purchase is the largest transaction some of us will ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

You're likely to be familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most known person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the money needed to fund the transaction. And the title company makes sure that all areas of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers 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 makes sure the value of the property is in line with the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must actually see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are there 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 illustrating 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 house.

Once the site has been inspected, 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.

Cost Approach

This is where we analyze information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to determine 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 method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very 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 the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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 could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Anderson & Associates, we are experts in knowing the value of real estate features in Vancouver and Clark County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most importance 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 an additional approach to value. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There 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. But the appraised value is typically employed 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 guarantee you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.