Comprehending Appraisals

Acquiring real estate is the biggest financial decision many people might ever consider. It doesn't matter if a main residence, a second vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Most of the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable face in the transaction. Then, the lender provides the money necessary to fund the exchange. The title company ensures that all aspects of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes to the buyer from the seller.

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 in line with the purchase price? In comes 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 Maine Home Appraisals, Inc will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the home inspection

Our first duty at Maine Home Appraisals, Inc 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 indeed exist and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is correct and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where we gather information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property comparable to the one being appraised. This estimate commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain 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 home in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable has a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable.
  • However, 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.

After all differences have been accounted for, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Maine Home Appraisals, Inc, we are experts when it comes to knowing the value of particular items in Casco and Cumberland County neighborhoods. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most weight 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 method of valuing a house. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down 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 what a property is worth. 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'. But the appraised value is often employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in case they had to put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Maine Home Appraisals, Inc will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.