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Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the most serious investment some of us may ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation home or an investment, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

The majority of the people involved are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the exchange. Then, the lender provides the money needed to finance the transaction. The title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the buyer.

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 property is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

Our first duty at Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they indeed exist and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage is accurate and convey the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

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

This is where we gather information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to determine how much it would cost to construct a property comparable to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the subdivisions in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath 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.

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 Shamrock Appraisals, Inc., we are experts in knowing the worth of real estate features in Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes employed when an area has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the property yields is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. It's not uncommon for prices to be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. Regardless, the appraised value is often employed 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 Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.