profile picture

An Overview of the Appraisal Process

Purchasing real estate can be the most important investment most of us may ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Practically all the participants are very familiar. The most familiar face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money needed to fund the deal. The title company makes sure that all details of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes 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 value of the real estate is in line with the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first task at Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. is to inspect the property to ascertain 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 indeed are present and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is accurate and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Next, after the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, we pull information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This figure commonly 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 get to know the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people 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 in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

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

An opinion of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Shamrock Appraisals, Inc., we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third method of valuing a house. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Reconciliation

Analyzing the data 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 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'. Regardless, 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. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.