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What Are the Parts of an Appraisal?

Buying real estate is the most important investment some people might ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, an additional vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

The majority of the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most familiar entity in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the money needed to fund the deal. And the title company sees to it that all requirements of the sale 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, what party makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. 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 Zacour & Associates, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the inspection

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must physically see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are present 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 accurate and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, we gather information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to determine how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. 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 are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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 putting a value on features of homes in El Paso and El Paso, Zacour & Associates, Inc. is second to none. This approach to value is typically awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use an additional way of valuing real estate. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to determine the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. But the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could recover in the event they had to put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Zacour & Associates, Inc. will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.