What Is an Appraisal?

Their home's purchase can be the biggest financial decision many of us may ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most familiar face in the exchange. Then, the bank provides the money necessary to fund the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

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

So, what party makes sure the real estate 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 parcel of real estate, 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 start with the inspection

Our first duty at South Shore Appraisals is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see features first hand, 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 person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and describe the layout of the property, 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, an appraiser uses 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.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser gathers information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, 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 has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, 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.

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. When it comes to putting a value on features of homes in Schererville and Lake, South Shore Appraisals can't be beat. This approach to value is most often given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing approach to value is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of income the property produces is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not always the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Prices can always 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 the property is actually worth. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from South Shore Appraisals will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.