What Is an Appraisal?

Buying a home can be the most important financial decision some of us may ever make. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Most of the parties involved are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known face in the exchange. Next, the bank provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. The title company makes sure that all aspects of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller.

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 consistent 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 parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Gage Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

Our first responsibility at Gage Appraisal Services is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are there and are in the shape a reasonable 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 home, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use 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.

Replacement Cost

This is where we gather information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra 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.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, if the subject 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. At Gage Appraisal Services, we are experts in knowing the worth of real estate features in Lansing and Allamakee County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing real estate is sometimes employed when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of revenue the property yields is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the most accurate indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. It's not uncommon for prices to be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. 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 recover in the event they had to sell the property again. The bottom line is, an appraiser from Gage Appraisal Services will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.

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