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Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Their home's purchase is the most serious transaction some people might ever make. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Practically all the parties involved are very familiar. The most recognizable person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the money necessary to bankroll the transaction. And ensuring all aspects of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser 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 real estate is consistent with the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. 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 Barnstable/Plymouth Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the home inspection

Our first duty at Barnstable/Plymouth Appraisal Services is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must physically view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really are present and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is accurate and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Next, after the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

Here, we analyze information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors 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. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra 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.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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 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. At Barnstable/Plymouth Appraisal Services, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Buzzards Bay and Barnstable County neighborhoods. This approach to value is usually given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

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 revenue the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valuePrices can always 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 employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could recover in case they had to sell the property again. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Barnstable/Plymouth Appraisal Services will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.