Understanding Appraisals

Acquiring a house is the most important financial decision some may ever consider. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

The majority of the participants are quite familiar. The most familiar person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to fund the transaction. And ensuring all aspects of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer 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, who makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. 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 Greater Orlando Appraisal Assoc., Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are there and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the house, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - 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 the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser gathers 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 value commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

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

A valid 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 Greater Orlando Appraisal Assoc., Inc., we are an authority in knowing the value of particular items in Orlando and Orange County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third method of valuing a house. In this situation, the amount of income the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the most accurate indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. 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 the property is actually worth. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Greater Orlando Appraisal Assoc., Inc. will guarantee you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.