Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the biggest financial decision some people could ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Practically all the participants are very familiar. The most known face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to fund the exchange. And ensuring all aspects of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the buyer 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 value of the property is consistent with 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 property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Phoenix Valuations, LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must actually see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are there and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property is accurate and illustrate the layout of the home, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - 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: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, we use information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to derive how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This figure commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or additional storage space, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable 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.
  • In the case where the subject has something such as an extra half bath that a comparable doesn't have, the appraiser might add the value of that bath 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 Phoenix Valuations, LLC, we are an authority in knowing the value of real estate features in Scottsdale and Maricopa County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use an additional method of valuing a house. In this case, the amount of income the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While the appraised value is probably the most accurate indication of what a property is worth, it probably will 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'. But 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 case they had to sell the property again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Phoenix Valuations, LLC will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.