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Comprehending Appraisals

Purchasing real estate can be the largest investment most could ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, a second vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Practically all the parties involved are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the exchange. Then, the mortgage company provides the financial capital needed to fund the transaction. And ensuring all details of the exchange are completed and that a clear title transfers to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

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 makes sure the value of the real estate is in line with the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might 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

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly exist and are in the shape a reasonable 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 look for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where we use information on local construction costs, labor rates 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. It's also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

A valid estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At P.M. Appraisals, Inc., we are an authority when it comes to knowing the value of real estate features in Babylon and Suffolk County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically given the most importance 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 - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. 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 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 P.M. Appraisals, Inc. will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.