Decoding the Appraisal Process
A home purchase can be the most serious financial decision many people could ever make. It doesn't matter if a main residence, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.
You're probably familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most familiar face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the money required to bankroll the exchange. And the title company sees to it that all details of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the buyer.
So, who makes sure the value of the real estate is in line with the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer might 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 Grace Realty will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.
Inspecting the subject property
To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. 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 truly are there and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the house, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.
Once the site has been inspected, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.
This is where we analyze information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.
Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate 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 portray the features of subject property.
Once all necessary adjustments have been made, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Grace Realty, we are experts in knowing the worth of real estate features in Bethlehem and Northampton County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically awarded the most weight 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 method of valuing real estate. In this case, the amount of income the property produces is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.
Putting It All Together
Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Grace Realty will guarantee you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.