A Description of the Appraisal Process

A home purchase is the biggest investment many of us might ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, a seasonal vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

Most of the participants are very familiar. The most recognizable person in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. And ensuring all aspects of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to pass 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 property is worth the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Home and Hearth Appraisals LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must physically see 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 reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - 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.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or additional storage space, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, if the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an 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 Home and Hearth Appraisals LLC, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Langhorne and Bucks County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes applied when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not always the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Depending on the specific situations 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 they could recover in case they had to put the property on the market again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Home and Hearth Appraisals LLC will guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.