Making Sense of the Appraisal Process

A home purchase can be the biggest transaction most may ever make. Whether it's a main residence, a second vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Practically all the people involved are quite familiar. The most recognizable entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money needed to finance the deal. And the title company makes sure that all requirements of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Gregory James Company, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Gregory James Company, 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 exist and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is correct and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Back at the office, an appraiser uses 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 we analyze information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to derive how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a fireplace 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.

In the end, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Gregory James Company, Inc., we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Atlanta and Polk County neighborhoods. This approach to value is most often given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes applied when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is factored in with income produced by similar properties to determine the current value.

Reconciliation

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. 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 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 Gregory James Company, Inc. will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.

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