Making Sense of the Appraisal Process

Buying real estate is the largest transaction some will ever encounter. Whether it's a primary residence, an additional vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

It's likely you are 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 money needed to finance the exchange. And ensuring all details of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes 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, what party is responsible for making sure the property is worth the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer could 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 ascertain the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed exist and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Back at the office, an appraiser uses 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 analyzes information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, extra 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 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.
  • However, 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. At CDM Appraisals, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Omaha and Douglas County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing approach to value is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by nearby properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property at hand. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the final sales price. 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 often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in case they had to sell the property again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from CDM Appraisals will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.