Home Appraisals: A Primer

Purchasing a house is the biggest financial decision some of us may ever consider. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a seasonal vacation home or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

You're likely to be familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most familiar face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the financial capital necessary to bankroll the exchange. And ensuring all requirements of the sale are completed and that a clear title transfers 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's responsible for making sure the value of the property is in line with the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Hopper-King & Assoc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first task at Hopper-King & Assoc. is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., 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 proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Following the inspection, 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.

Replacement Cost

This is where we gather information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know 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 transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, additional 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 are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of an irrigation system 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.

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 Hopper-King & Assoc., we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Stone Mountain and Dekalb County neighborhoods. This approach to value is commonly given the most importance when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. Depending 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.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. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Hopper-King & Assoc. will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.