Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer
Acquiring a house can be the largest financial decision many could ever make. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a seasonal vacation home or an investment, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.
It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the money necessary to fund the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller is the title company.
So, who's responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.
The inspection is where an appraisal starts
To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed are present and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and document the layout of the house, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.
Following the inspection, we use 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.
This is where the appraiser uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to build a property similar to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.
Analyzing Comparable Sales
Appraisers can tell you a lot about the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional 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.
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. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in and Baltimore, is your local authority. The sales comparison approach to value is most often given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.
Valuation Using the Income Approach
A third method of valuing a property is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of revenue the property generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.
The Bottom Line
Analyzing the data from all 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 accurate indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. 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 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 will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.