Decoding the Appraisal Process

Purchasing a home can be the largest financial decision many people could ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, a seasonal vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

You're likely to be familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the financial capital needed to finance the exchange. And the title company ensures that all details of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the purchaser.

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So, who makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 QUEENS APPRAISAL SERVICES will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the home inspection

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must physically view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, condition, etc., to ensure they really are there and are in the condition a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks 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: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, the appraiser analyzes information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional 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 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.
  • However, if the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

Once all necessary adjustments have been made, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At QUEENS APPRAISAL SERVICES, we are experts in knowing the worth of real estate features in Queens and Western Nassau County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing real estate is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the real estate produces is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. Prices can always be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from QUEENS APPRAISAL SERVICES will guarantee you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.