Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Buying real estate can be the most important financial decision most of us could ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Practically all the people participating are very familiar. The most known person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money needed to finance the transaction. The title company makes sure that all aspects of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the purchaser.

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 amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 RWA Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at RWA Appraisals is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they really are there and are in the condition a typical person 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, we identify any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

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

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser uses information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly 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 property being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath 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.

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. When it comes to knowing the true value of features of homes in Port Orchard and Kitsap, RWA Appraisals can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is usually given the most importance 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 approach to value. In this case, the amount of revenue the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property 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 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from RWA Appraisals will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.