Making Sense of the Appraisal Process

Buying a home can be the most serious investment most people may ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

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

You're likely to be familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most familiar person in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the money needed to fund the exchange. Ensuring all requirements of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the buyer is the title company.

So what party is responsible for making sure the property is consistent with the purchase price?   This is where you meet 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 professional Pennsylvania licensed appraiser from LT Appraisal Services will ensure you as an interested party are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., 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 floor plan, ensuring the square footage is accurate and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Once the site has been inspected, we use two or three approaches when determining the value of the 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 building costs, the cost of labor 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 method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the communities in which they appraise. We innately understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property in question. 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 property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable 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 home.
  • If the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.
When it comes to putting a value on features of homes in Burgettstown and Washington, LT Appraisal Services is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is usually given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use an additional approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate generates is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With the Final Value

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's market value Depending on the specific 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. Regardless, the appraised value is often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property would likely sell for in an open marketplace. The bottom line is: An appraiser from LT Appraisal Services will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.