Home Appraisals: A Primer

Acquiring a house can be the biggest transaction most people might ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

You're likely to be familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most familiar face in the transaction. Next, the mortgage company provides the money needed to fund the deal. And the title company makes sure that all requirements of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes to the buyer from the seller.

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So, what party is responsible for making sure the property is worth 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 parcel of real estate, 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 responsibility at Advantage Appraisal Inc. (207) 794-2018 is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed are there and are in the condition a typical buyer 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, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

After the inspection, we use 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.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser analyzes information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to derive how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular 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 home at hand. Using knowledge of the value of 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 portray the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, 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.

A valid estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to valuing features of homes in Lincoln and Penobscot, Advantage Appraisal Inc. (207) 794-2018 can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is most often given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is taken into consideration along with income produced by comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While the appraised value is probably the most reliable indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the final sales price. 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'. But the appraised value is typically employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could recover in case they had to sell the property again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Advantage Appraisal Inc. (207) 794-2018 will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.