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What Is an Appraisal?

Acquiring a house can be the most important transaction some people will ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital needed to finance the deal. And ensuring all details of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers to the buyer from the seller 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 value of the property is consistent with the amount being paid? This is where you meet 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 Grantham Appraisal & Realty, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Grantham Appraisal & Realty, Inc. is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really are there and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying 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 house.

Once the site has been inspected, an appraiser uses 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 pulls information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra 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 a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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 valid estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in Fortson and Muscogee, Grantham Appraisal & Realty, Inc. can't be beat. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a property is sometimes applied when a neighborhood has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with income produced by similar properties to determine the current value.

Reconciliation

Combining information 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 always the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Prices can always be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. 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 sell the property again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Grantham Appraisal & Realty, Inc. will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.