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Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the most serious transaction many people may ever consider. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, an additional vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Practically all the parties participating are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most known entity in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the financial capital required to finance the exchange. The title company sees to it that all areas of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the purchaser.

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 real estate is worth the amount being paid? 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 property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Russell Appraisal Service will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the property inspection

To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are there and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and document the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Back at the office, an appraiser uses 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, the appraiser analyzes information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value commonly 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 work. They innately understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • But, 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.

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. When it comes to knowing the true value of features of homes in Pflugerville and Travis, Russell Appraisal Service is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is usually given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing approach to value is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to determine the current value.

Putting It All Together

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property at hand. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. Depending on the individual circumstances of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down.Regardless, the appraised value is typically used 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 Russell Appraisal Service will help you get the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.