What Are the Components of an Appraisal?

Buying a home is the biggest investment most of us could ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a seasonal vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

The majority of the people involved are quite familiar. The most familiar entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the money required to bankroll the transaction. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes 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 in line with the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Mike Noble Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the inspection

Our first responsibility at Mike Noble Appraisals is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must physically see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed are present and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Next, after the inspection, 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.

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to 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 a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, if the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain 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 Mike Noble Appraisals, we are experts in knowing the worth of real estate features in Montgomery and Elmore County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use an additional way of valuing real estate. In this case, the amount of income the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not always the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. But 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Mike Noble Appraisals will help you get the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.