Home Appraisals: A Primer

Getting real estate can be the largest financial decision many could ever consider. Whether it's a primary residence, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Practically all the people involved are quite familiar. The most known face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the money necessary to finance the exchange. And ensuring all aspects of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

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So, what party makes sure the value of the property is consistent with the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer could expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Cloudview Appraisals, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

Our first responsibility at Cloudview Appraisals, Inc. is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are there 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 accurate and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Following the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Cost Approach

Here, we gather information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the communities in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or additional storage space, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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 might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Cloudview Appraisals, Inc., we are experts in knowing the value of particular items in Santa Barbara and Ventura County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the property generates is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueDepending on the specific situations 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 often 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Cloudview Appraisals, Inc. will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.