Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Buying real estate can be the most serious transaction many will ever make. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

Practically all the parties involved are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the exchange. Then, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to fund the transaction. The title company makes sure that all requirements of the sale 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 is responsible for making 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 property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Frigoletto & Associates Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Frigoletto & Associates Inc. is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, 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 property, ensuring the square footage is accurate and illustrating 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.

Following the inspection, we use 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 uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This figure usually 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 subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an irrigation system and the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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.

An opinion of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Frigoletto & Associates Inc., we are experts when it comes to knowing the value of real estate features in Leominster and Worcester County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

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

Coming Up With The Final Value

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a house is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. 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 typically 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 Frigoletto & Associates Inc. will guarantee you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.