What Are the Parts of an Appraisal?

A home purchase is the largest financial decision many of us could ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Practically all the people involved are very familiar. The most recognizable face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money necessary to bankroll the transaction. And ensuring all details of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

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So, what party is responsible for making sure the real estate 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 property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Mitchell Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the property inspection

Our first responsibility at Mitchell Appraisals 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 really are present and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the house, the inspection often requires 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 the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where we use information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has an irrigation system and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, if the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

After all differences have been accounted for, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Mitchell Appraisals, we are an authority in knowing the value of real estate features in Navarre and Santa Rosa County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use an additional way of valuing real estate. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate produces is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the most accurate indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. 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 typically employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in the event they had to put the property on the market again. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Mitchell Appraisals will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.