Decoding the Appraisal Process

Their home's purchase is the largest transaction some people could ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the financial capital required to bankroll the deal. And the title company sees to it that all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer 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 property is worth 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 parcel of real estate, 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.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are present and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify 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 the property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser analyzes information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements 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. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, additional bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, 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 could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Premier Appraisal of SoCal, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Mission Viejo and Orange County neighborhoods. This approach to value is most often awarded the most weight 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 a neighborhood has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of income the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with income produced by comparable properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the most accurate indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. It's not uncommon for prices to be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. But the appraised value is typically 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 Premier Appraisal of SoCal will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.