Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

A home purchase can be the most important transaction most of us might ever make. 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 financial transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

The majority of the people participating are quite familiar. The most recognizable entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to fund the exchange. The title company makes sure that all requirements of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the buyer.

To learn more about appraising, click here to see a short video or call us today to talk about your specific property.

So, what party 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 CDM Appraisals 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 duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed are there and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is proper and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

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

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of a storm shelter from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount to the comparable property.

After all differences have been accounted for, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. When it comes to associating a value with features of homes in Omaha and Douglas, CDM Appraisals is your local authority. This approach to value is most often awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing real estate is sometimes employed when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this situation, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with income produced by comparable properties to determine the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Examining the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate 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 valueThere are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, 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. The bottom line is, an appraiser from CDM Appraisals will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.