Understanding the Appraisal Process

A home purchase is the most serious financial decision many could ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a seasonal vacation home or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

The majority of the participants are very familiar. The most recognizable face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to finance the deal. The title company sees to it that all areas of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers to the buyer from the seller.

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So, who's responsible for making sure the value of the property is in line with the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Morrision Singleton will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the property inspection

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must physically see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed are there and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the home, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for 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 real property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct 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.

An opinion of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to valuing features of homes in Raleigh and Wake, Morrision Singleton can't be beat. This approach to value is usually given the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to determine the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. 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 valueIt's not uncommon for prices to 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 employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Morrision Singleton will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.