Home Appraisals: A Primer

Buying a house can be the biggest financial decision many people might ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a second vacation home or an investment, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Practically all the people participating are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the transaction. Then, the mortgage company provides the money needed to finance the deal. And ensuring all requirements of the sale 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's responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. 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 Joseph Mier & Associates will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

Our first responsibility at Joseph Mier & Associates is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly exist and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect 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: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the communities in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject 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 adjust the comparable properties 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 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 Joseph Mier & Associates, we are experts in knowing the worth of particular items in Hammond and Tangipahoa County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is typically awarded 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 approach to value. In this situation, the amount of income the property yields is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valueDepending on the specific situations 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 they could get back in the event they had to put the property on the market again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Joseph Mier & Associates will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.