A Description of the Appraisal Process

A home purchase is the most significant investment many of us might ever encounter. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

The majority of the participants are very familiar. The most known face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the financial capital needed to bankroll the transaction. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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's responsible for making sure the value of the property is in line with the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 H.M. Hoffman & Company will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the home inspection

Our first duty at H.M. Hoffman & Company is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really exist and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and describe the layout of the home, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, 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.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value commonly sets the maximum 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 innately understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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 could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At H.M. Hoffman & Company, we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Narberth and Montgomery County neighborhoods. This approach to value is commonly given 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 - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

Reconciliation

Examining the data 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 what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueThere 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 often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in case they had to put the property on the market again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from H.M. Hoffman & Company will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.

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