Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the most serious transaction most of us might ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal 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.

The majority of the people involved are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most familiar entity in the exchange. Next, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to fund the exchange. The title company ensures that all requirements of the transaction 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 is responsible for making sure the property is worth the amount being paid? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer might 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 Antares Real Estate Management 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 actually view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed are there and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage is accurate and convey the layout of the house, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on 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.

Cost Approach

Here, we use information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to determine how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the communities 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 close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra 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.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

A true estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Antares Real Estate Management, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Oakland and Orange County neighborhoods. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use an additional approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Examining the data 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 accurate indication of what a house is worth, it may 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'. Regardless, the appraised value is often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Antares Real Estate Management will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.