Understanding Appraisals

A home purchase is the most important financial decision most of us may ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most known person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money needed to fund the exchange. The title company sees to it that all aspects of the exchange are completed and that a clear title passes to the buyer from the seller.

To learn more about appraising, click here to see a short video or call us today to talk about your specific property.

So, who's responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? 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 Signature Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the property inspection

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly exist and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Next, after the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real 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, labor rates and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, additional bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), 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 a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • But, 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.

After all differences have been accounted for, 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 putting a value on features of homes in Boerne and Kendall, Signature Appraisals is second to none. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use a third way of valuing a property. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with income produced by neighboring 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 stipulate an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Depending on the individual situations 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.But the appraised value is typically used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Signature Appraisals will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.