Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Getting real estate can be the most serious transaction most of us may ever encounter. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a detailed 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 person in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the money required to finance the exchange. And ensuring all requirements of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the purchaser 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's responsible for making sure the value of the real estate is consistent with the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, 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 begins

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they indeed are present and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify 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 real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser gathers information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to replace the property 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 innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property at hand. Using knowledge of the value of 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 more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, if the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

An opinion 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 knowing the true worth of features of homes in Orlando and Orange, Greater Orlando Appraisal Assoc., Inc. can't be beat. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use an additional method of valuing real estate. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate produces is factored in with income produced by similar properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Putting It All Together

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. Regardless, 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. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Greater Orlando Appraisal Assoc., Inc. will guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.