Understanding Appraisals

Buying real estate can be the most significant transaction most people may ever consider. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a second vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Most of the parties involved are very familiar. The most recognizable entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to fund the deal. And ensuring all details of the sale are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

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So, what party makes sure the value of the property is consistent with the amount being paid? 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 property, 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.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must physically view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are present and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - 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 the property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser pulls information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical 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.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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.

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 Beverly and Essex, Tierney Appraisals is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most importance 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 - the appraiser may use an additional way of valuing a house. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate produces is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Reconciliation

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. 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 Tierney Appraisals will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.