Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the biggest investment many people might ever consider. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, an additional vacation property or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most recognizable person in the transaction. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital needed to finance the deal. The title company sees to it that all details of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes 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, 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 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 Sirius Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they really are present and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for 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: 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 building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties 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 does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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 Sirius Appraisal Services, we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Jamaica Estates and Queens County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing approach to value is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of income the property yields is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While the appraised value is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it may 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. But 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 the event they had to sell the property again. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Sirius Appraisal Services will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.

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