Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the most important financial decision most may ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money needed to bankroll the exchange. And ensuring all requirements of the exchange are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the purchaser 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, who makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? This is where you meet 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 Tierney Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first task at Tierney 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 really are there and are in the shape a typical person 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, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Once the site has been inspected, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, the appraiser analyzes information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the subdivisions in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has an irrigation system and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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.

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. When it comes to knowing the true value of features of homes in Beverly and Essex, Tierney Appraisals is your local authority. This approach to value is commonly given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home 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 real estate generates is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. 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 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 put the property on the market again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Tierney Appraisals will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.