What Goes Into an Appraisal?

Purchasing real estate is the largest financial decision many may ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, an additional vacation home or one of many rentals, 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 known entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money necessary to finance the transaction. The title company ensures that all requirements of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller.

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So, who's responsible for making sure the real estate is worth 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 JMS Appraisal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first task at JMS Appraisal is to inspect the property to ascertain 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 indeed exist and are in the shape 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, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Following the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where we use information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

Once all necessary adjustments have been made, 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 Aliso Viejo and Orange, JMS Appraisal is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is usually awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

Reconciliation

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. 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 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 they could get back in the event they had to put the property on the market again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from JMS Appraisal will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.