Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Getting a home can be the biggest transaction some could ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most known face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to bankroll the deal. The title company makes sure that all areas of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes 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 makes sure the value of the real estate is in line with 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 Salt Lake Appraising Company will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the inspection

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility 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 really exist and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the home, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - 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

Here, we analyze information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, extra 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.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • But, in the case where the subject has something such as an extra half bath that a comparable doesn't have, the appraiser might add the value of that bath to the comparable property.

A true estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Salt Lake Appraising Company, we are experts in knowing the worth of real estate features in Draper and Salt Lake County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is usually given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing approach to value is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Analyzing the data from all applicable 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. Depending on the specific circumstances of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down.But the appraised value is typically 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 Salt Lake Appraising Company will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.