What Is an Appraisal?

Acquiring real estate is the most significant investment some might ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, an additional vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

The majority of the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the transaction. Next, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to fund the deal. And ensuring all details of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

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So, who's responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from South Shore Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the inspection

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really are there and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Following the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Cost Approach

Here, we analyze information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, additional bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • 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.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

A valid estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in Schererville and Lake, South Shore Appraisals can't be beat. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing real estate is sometimes used when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of income the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueThere are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price 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 they could recover in the event they had to put the property on the market again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from South Shore Appraisals will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.