Making Sense of the Appraisal Process

Buying a house is the biggest investment some people could ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

The majority of the people involved are quite familiar. The most recognizable entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the financial capital needed to finance the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass to the buyer from the seller 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, what party makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? This is where you meet 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 Larry Scott Appraisal Service will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our responsibility 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 really exist and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the house, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to derive how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This value usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount 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. At Larry Scott Appraisal Service, we are an authority in knowing the worth of particular items in Yucaipa and San Bernardino County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by nearby properties to determine the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. 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. Prices can always 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 the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Larry Scott Appraisal Service will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.