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An Overview of the Appraisal Process

Purchasing real estate is the most serious transaction some people will ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation home or an investment, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the money needed to finance the exchange. And the title company ensures that all areas of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes to the buyer from the seller.

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 amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 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 physically see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed are there and are in the condition a reasonable 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 includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Back at the office, 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

Here, we analyze information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This figure often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific 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 real estate 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 are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter 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.

In the end, 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 an authority in knowing the worth of real estate features in Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County neighborhoods. This approach to value is most often awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is taken into consideration along with income produced by nearby properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While the appraised value is probably the most reliable indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the final sales price. 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. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.