Making Sense of the Appraisal Process

A home purchase is the most important financial decision some people might ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Practically all the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable face in the transaction. Next, the bank provides the money needed to finance the deal. The title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser.

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So, who makes sure the property 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 parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Schwab Appraisal LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really exist and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Once the site has been inspected, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to build a property comparable 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 method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable 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 home.
  • If the subject 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 valuing features of homes in Coeur d Alene and Kootenai, Schwab Appraisal LLC is second to none. This approach to value is typically awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use a third way of valuing a property. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueIt'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 often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in case they had to put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Schwab Appraisal LLC will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.