Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the most important investment many might ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Practically all the parties involved are very familiar. The most recognizable face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the financial capital required to finance the deal. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller 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 is responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. 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 Sirius Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must actually view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed are there and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

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

Cost Approach

This is where we analyze information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable has a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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.

A true estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Sirius Appraisal Services, we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Jamaica Estates and Queens County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is typically given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes applied when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with income produced by similar 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 at hand. The estimate of value on 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 the final price up or down. But the appraised value is often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in the event they had to put the property on the market again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Sirius Appraisal Services will guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.

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