What Goes Into an Appraisal?

Their home's purchase can be the most significant investment most of us may ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

Practically all the parties participating are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most familiar entity in the transaction. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital required to bankroll the deal. And ensuring all details of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

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So, who makes sure the value of the real estate is in line with the amount being paid? In comes 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 Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first task at Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc. is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see features 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. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and document the layout of the house, the inspection often includes 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.

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.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser analyzes information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • 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.
  • 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 might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Crescent Appraisal Group, Inc., we are an authority in knowing the value of real estate features in Metairie and Jefferson County neighborhoods. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of income the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While the appraised value is probably the best indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is typically employed 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 discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.