Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Purchasing a house can be the most important investment some could ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most recognizable person in the exchange. Next, the mortgage company provides the financial capital required to bankroll the deal. And the title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the buyer.

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So, who makes sure the property is worth the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate 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 Denlinger Appraisal Associates will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Denlinger Appraisal Associates is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must actually see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are there and are in the condition a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and document the layout of the property, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - 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 real property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with 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 sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject property.

  • For example, if 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 has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add a certain amount 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 Denlinger Appraisal Associates, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Greenwood Village and Arapahoe County neighborhoods. This approach to value is usually given the most weight 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 real estate. In this case, the amount of revenue the property yields is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to give an indicator of 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 property at hand. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Prices can always 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 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 Denlinger Appraisal Associates will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.