Home Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase is the most significant financial decision most of us will ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

You're probably familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most familiar entity in the transaction. Next, the lender provides the money necessary to fund the transaction. And the title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction 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 makes sure the real estate is worth the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 C. Gaba Appraisals, LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at C. Gaba Appraisals, LLC is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are there and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property is accurate and describe the layout of the home, the inspection often requires 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 house.

Next, after the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser uses information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to determine how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This figure often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the subdivisions in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

In the end, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At C. Gaba Appraisals, LLC, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Mobile and Mobile County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate 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 generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all 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 valueDepending on the individual circumstances 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 used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from C. Gaba Appraisals, LLC will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.