Understanding the Appraisal Process
A home purchase is the most serious financial decision many might ever make. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.
You're probably familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most recognizable face in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the money necessary to fund the transaction. And ensuring all areas of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.
So, what party makes sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 A.M. Appraisal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.
Appraisals begin with the inspection
To determine 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 there and are in the condition a typical person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and describe the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.
Back at the office, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.
Here, the appraiser analyzes information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.
Paired Sales Analysis
Appraisers can tell you a lot about the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property in question. By assigning a dollar value to 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 are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.
After all differences have been accounted for, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At A.M. Appraisal, we are experts when it comes to knowing the value of particular items in Mission Viejo and Orange County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home sale.
Valuation Using the Income Approach
In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third way of valuing a property. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to give an indicator of the current value.
Arriving at a Value Conclusion
Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Prices can always be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. Regardless, the appraised value is typically employed 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 A.M. Appraisal will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.
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