An Overview of the Appraisal Process

A home purchase is the largest investment many of us will ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a second vacation home or an investment, 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 taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the money required to bankroll the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

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So, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the property 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 Powers Real Estate Services, LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must actually view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are there and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Following the inspection, we use 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.

Replacement Cost

Here, we gather information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers get to know the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions 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, extra 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.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, 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.

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 Powers Real Estate Services, LLC, we are experts in knowing the value of particular items in San Tan Valley and Pinal County neighborhoods. This approach to value is usually awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate 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 situation, the amount of income the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by comparable properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. 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 the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. But the appraised value is typically used 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 Powers Real Estate Services, LLC will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.