Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Buying real estate can be the biggest investment many people may ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a second vacation home or an investment, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Practically all the people participating are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known entity in the exchange. Then, the mortgage company provides the money needed to bankroll the transaction. And the title company ensures that all details of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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, who 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 Premier Appraisal of SoCal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Premier Appraisal of SoCal is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed exist and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser uses information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable.
  • If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

An opinion of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to putting a value on features of homes in Mission Viejo and Orange, Premier Appraisal of SoCal is second to none. This approach to value is usually given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of income the property yields is factored in with income produced by comparable properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. Depending on the specific situations of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down.But 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. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Premier Appraisal of SoCal will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.