Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Getting a house is the largest transaction most of us may ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, an additional vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

The majority of the participants are very familiar. The most familiar face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the financial capital needed to fund the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the buyer is the title company.

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 value of the property is in line with the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer could expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Gateway Appraisals Ltd. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct 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 truly exist and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is accurate and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, we use 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

This is where the appraiser pulls information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to construct a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, additional bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

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

After all differences have been accounted for, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. When it comes to knowing the true value of features of homes in Wantagh and Nassau, Gateway Appraisals Ltd. can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is usually given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes applied when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the best indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. Depending on the individual situations of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down.But the appraised value is often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Gateway Appraisals Ltd. will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.