What Is an Appraisal?

A home purchase is the most important investment most will ever make. Whether it's a primary residence, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

The majority of the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known face in the exchange. Next, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to fund the exchange. And ensuring all areas of the exchange 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, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the property is in line with the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 Kent & Associates Appraisal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly exist and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and document the layout of the home, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Following the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Replacement Cost

This is where we use information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to construct a property nearly identical 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 predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the communities in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • If, 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.
  • 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.

Once all necessary adjustments have been made, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Kent & Associates Appraisal, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the value of particular items in Mill Creek and Snohomish County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is commonly given the most importance when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes employed when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of income the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while this amount is probably the most accurate indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. It's not uncommon for prices to be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. 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 is actually worth. Here's what it all boils down to, an appraiser from Kent & Associates Appraisal will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.