Understanding Appraisals

Getting real estate can be the largest investment most of us will ever consider. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

The majority of the parties involved are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable face in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the money required to fund the deal. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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 the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Chris Peterson will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the property inspection

Our first duty at Chris Peterson is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed are present and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is accurate and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

After the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where we use information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property comparable to the one being appraised. This figure usually 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 specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches 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 remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or additional storage space, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable.
  • If the subject 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. At Chris Peterson, we are an authority in knowing the value of particular items in Fountain Valley and Orange County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Examining the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueDepending on the specific circumstances of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down.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 sell the property again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Chris Peterson will guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.