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Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Buying a house can be the biggest financial decision most will ever make. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Practically all the parties participating are very familiar. The most known face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the financial capital needed to fund the deal. And ensuring all areas of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller 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 is responsible for making sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? This is where you meet the appraiser. 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 Young Real Estate Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Young Real Estate Appraisals is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must physically view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are present and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser pulls information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, if the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount 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 Young Real Estate Appraisals, we are experts when it comes to knowing the value of real estate features in Palm Desert and Riverside County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most weight 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 a third method of valuing real estate. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is factored in with income produced by comparable properties to determine the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state 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 what a property is worth. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could recover in case they had to sell the property again. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Young Real Estate Appraisals will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.