Comprehending Appraisals

A home purchase can be the largest investment many may ever consider. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a second vacation home or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most familiar entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the lender provides the money needed to finance the exchange. And the title company ensures that all areas of the exchange are completed and that a clear title transfers 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, who makes sure the value of the real estate is consistent with the amount being paid? In comes the appraiser. 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 Bowers Real Estate & Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

Our first duty at Bowers Real Estate & Appraisal Services is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are there and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, 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 have an impact on the value of the house.

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

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser pulls information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to determine how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of 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 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.
  • But, 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.

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 Bowers Real Estate & Appraisal Services, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the value of particular items in Los Angeles and Los Angeles County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is usually given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third method of valuing a property. In this case, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While this amount is probably the most accurate indication of what a property is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is typically employed 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 Bowers Real Estate & Appraisal Services will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.