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Decoding the Appraisal Process

A home purchase can be the largest financial decision some might ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

You're probably familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most familiar face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital required to fund the transaction. And the title company makes sure that all details of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes 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, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the property is consistent with the purchase price? 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 P.M. Appraisals, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first task at P.M. Appraisals, Inc. is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must physically view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and illustrate the layout of the home, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, we analyze information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the subdivisions in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property 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 add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • In the case where the subject has something such as an extra half bath that a comparable doesn't have, the appraiser might add the value of that bath to the comparable property.

In the end, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in Babylon and Suffolk, P.M. Appraisals, Inc. can't be beat. This approach to value is usually given the most consideration 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 situation, the amount of income the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Putting It All Together

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. Prices can always 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. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from P.M. Appraisals, Inc. will help you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.