Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Acquiring real estate is the biggest transaction most people might ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation home or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most familiar person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to finance the deal. And ensuring all details of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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, who makes sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 J & A Appraisals, LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first duty at J & A Appraisals, LLC is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must physically see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are present and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is proper and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

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

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser uses information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, if the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

A true estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At J & A Appraisals, LLC, we are an authority in knowing the value of particular items in Aurora and Arapahoe County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is typically awarded the most consideration 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 scenario, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. 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 recover in the event they had to put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from J & A Appraisals, LLC will guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.