Home Appraisals: A Primer

Getting a home can be the largest transaction some of us might ever encounter. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Practically all the people participating are quite familiar. The most recognizable person in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money required to fund the exchange. And the title company ensures that all details 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 property 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 property, 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.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

Our first responsibility at Central Arizona Appraisers is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly are present and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the house, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious features - 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 the property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where we analyze information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to build 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.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of 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 more accurately portray the features of subject property.

  • For example, if 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.
  • But, in the case where the subject has something such as an extra half bath that a comparable doesn't have, the appraiser might add the value of that bath to the comparable property.

A valid estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. When it comes to knowing the true worth of features of homes in Phoenix and Maricopa, Central Arizona Appraisers is your local authority. The sales comparison approach to value is typically awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

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 scenario, the amount of income the property produces 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

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. 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 valueIt'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 typically used 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 Central Arizona Appraisers will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.