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Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the largest transaction some might ever make. It doesn't matter if a main residence, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

Practically all the participants are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most familiar face in the transaction. Next, the lender provides the money necessary to fund the deal. And the title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer 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 is responsible for making sure the property is worth the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 V C Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first duty at V C Appraisals is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must actually see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are present and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and describe the layout of the home, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Back at the office, 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, we analyze information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to determine how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, additional 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 property.

  • If, for example, the comparable has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • If the subject property 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. When it comes to valuing features of homes in Oklahoma City and Oklahoma, V C Appraisals can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

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

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. But the appraised value is often employed 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 V C Appraisals will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.