Understanding the Appraisal Process

A home purchase can be the largest transaction some people will ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Practically all the participants are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the exchange. Then, the bank provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. And the title company makes sure that all details of the transaction 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, what party makes sure the value of the real estate is consistent 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 Hertzler & Associates Real Estate Appraisers will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first complete a thorough inspection. We must physically view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated square footage is accurate and describe the layout of the property, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

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 pull information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers get to know the communities in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace 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.

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 Hertzler & Associates Real Estate Appraisers, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the value of particular items in Williamsburg and Williamsburg City 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

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

Coming Up With The Final Value

Examining the data from all applicable 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 valueIt'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'. But the appraised value is often used 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 Hertzler & Associates Real Estate Appraisers will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.