Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the most important financial decision most of us might ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most recognizable person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the financial capital necessary to finance the transaction. And the title company makes sure that all details of the exchange are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the purchaser.

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 value of the real estate is consistent with the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might 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 Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they really exist and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Next, after the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where we gather information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to determine how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure 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 certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately portray the features of subject property.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, 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.

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 associating a value with features of homes in Metairie and Jefferson, Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc. can't be beat. This approach to value is typically awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes employed when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is factored in with income produced by comparable properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a house 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'. Regardless, the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc. will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.