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Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Their home's purchase can be the most serious investment most of us could ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Most of the participants are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most known entity in the transaction. Next, the lender provides the money needed to finance the transaction. And ensuring all details of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the purchaser 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 is responsible for making sure the property is worth 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 Zacour & Associates, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first duty at Zacour & Associates, Inc. is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must physically see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are there and are in the condition a typical person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property is accurate and convey the layout of the home, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - 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: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser uses information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to derive how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. 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.

  • For example, if the comparable has a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a fireplace 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.

A true estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Zacour & Associates, Inc., we are an authority in knowing the worth of particular items in El Paso and El Paso County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is typically given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing approach to value is sometimes applied when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate produces is taken into consideration along with income produced by comparable properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While this amount is probably the most accurate indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the final sales price. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. But 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. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Zacour & Associates, Inc. will guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.