Understanding Appraisals

A home purchase can be the most important transaction some of us will ever make. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a seasonal vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most known entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money required to finance the transaction. And ensuring all requirements of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the buyer 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 amount being paid? 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 parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Personal Service Realty's Residential Valuation Group will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they really are present and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property is accurate and describe the layout of the property, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Following the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a paired sales analysis, 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, the cost of labor and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has an irrigation system and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, if the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an 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. At Personal Service Realty's Residential Valuation Group, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Jacksonville and Duval County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing approach to value is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a measurable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate produces is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. Depending on the individual 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.Regardless, 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 Personal Service Realty's Residential Valuation Group will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.