What Is an Appraisal?

Acquiring a home is the most important transaction many could ever make. Whether it's a primary residence, a seasonal vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

The majority of the parties participating are quite familiar. The most familiar person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to finance the transaction. And the title company ensures that all areas of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers 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, who makes sure the property is worth the amount being paid? This is where you meet 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 Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the inspection

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed exist and are in the condition a reasonable buyer 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 look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, we use information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate usually 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 appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches 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 square footage, additional bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter 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. At Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc., we are an authority when it comes to knowing the value of particular items in Metairie and Jefferson County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use an additional method of valuing a property. In this situation, the amount of income the real estate produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. It'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 Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc. will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.