What Is an Appraisal?

A home purchase can be the largest transaction many of us will ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Practically all the parties involved are quite familiar. The most recognizable entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money needed to fund the exchange. And the title company sees to it that all areas of the exchange 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 makes sure the property is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer could expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Timberline Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

Our first task at Timberline Appraisals 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 really exist and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage is accurate and illustrate the layout of the home, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Following the inspection, 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.

Cost Approach

This is where we pull information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This figure often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject 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 property.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable.
  • But, 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.

An opinion of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Timberline Appraisals, we are an authority in knowing the value of particular items in Brodhead and Green County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most importance when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use a third way of valuing a property. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Depending on the individual circumstances 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 often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Timberline Appraisals will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.