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A Description of the Appraisal Process

Acquiring a home can be the most significant financial decision many people might ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most known entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money required to finance the deal. And the title company ensures that all requirements of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer 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 is responsible for making sure the property is worth 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 parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from W. Eric Howard & Associates will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the property inspection

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they indeed are present and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and describe the layout of the home, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

After the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to derive how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. 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.

  • 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.
  • If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an 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. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in Severn and Anne Arundel, W. Eric Howard & Associates is your local authority. This approach to value is usually given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. But the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. At the end of the day, an appraiser from W. Eric Howard & Associates will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.