Understanding the Appraisal Process

A home purchase can be the largest transaction many of us will ever encounter. Whether it's a main residence, a second vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

You're probably familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the money needed to fund the transaction. And ensuring all requirements of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the buyer 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, 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 C L Harper & Associates will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must actually see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are present and are in the condition 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 identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Back at the office, 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

Here, we pull information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to ascertain how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners 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 in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or additional storage space, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property has a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • If the subject 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 C L Harper & Associates, we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Corpus Christi and Nueces County neighborhoods. This approach to value is usually given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is factored in with income produced by nearby properties to derive the current value.

The Bottom Line

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value on 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'. 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. At the end of the day, an appraiser from C L Harper & Associates will help you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.