Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the largest financial decision most could ever make. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Practically all the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known entity in the transaction. Then, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to finance the deal. The title company sees to it that all requirements of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller.

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So, who makes sure the property is worth the amount being paid? In comes 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 Advantage Appraisal Inc. (207) 794-2018 will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

Our first task at Advantage Appraisal Inc. (207) 794-2018 is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really exist and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property is accurate and illustrate the layout of the home, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Back at the office, 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

Here, we use information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional 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 property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract 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. At Advantage Appraisal Inc. (207) 794-2018, we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Lincoln and Penobscot County neighborhoods. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a property is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a measurable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of income the real estate yields is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

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 the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a property is worth, it may 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. Regardless, the appraised value is typically employed 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. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Advantage Appraisal Inc. (207) 794-2018 will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.