Comprehending Appraisals

Getting a house can be the largest investment most people might ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most recognizable face in the exchange. Next, the bank provides the money required to fund the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser 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 real estate is consistent with the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first duty at is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must physically view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are there and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is correct and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Next, after the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser gathers information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to determine how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, 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 irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system 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.

Once all necessary adjustments have been made, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At , we are an authority in knowing the worth of particular items in and Baltimore County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third approach to value. In this case, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to determine the current value.

Reconciliation

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing 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 get back in case they had to sell the property again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from will help you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.