Understanding Appraisals

Purchasing a house is the most significant investment some people may ever make. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation property 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 quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable entity in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the financial capital required to bankroll 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 makes 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 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 Central Arizona Appraisers will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are present and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and document the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use 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

Here, the appraiser uses information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This value often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable 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.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

A true estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to valuing features of homes in Phoenix and Maricopa, Central Arizona Appraisers is your local authority. The sales comparison approach to value is usually given the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a property is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the property yields is taken into consideration along 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 property in question. The estimate of value on 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 typically employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Central Arizona Appraisers will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.