What is an appraisal?

Acquiring a house is the most important transaction many people will ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

You're probably familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most recognizable entity in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the financial capital needed to finance the transaction. Ensuring all details of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

So who's responsible for making sure 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 parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A professional Illinois licensed appraiser from M.J. Appraisal will ensure you as an interested party are informed.

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Appraisals begin with the home inspection

Our first responsibility at M.J. Appraisal 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 reasonable person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and describe the layout of the home, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floor plan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Following the inspection, an appraiser employs two or three approaches when determining the value of the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach. 

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Cost Approach

Here, we analyze information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to figure out how much it would cost to construct a property comparable 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. 

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Sales Comparison

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the subdivisions in which they appraise. We innately understand the value of specific features to the people 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 being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, an additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property. 

  • If, for example, the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath 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.

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. The sales comparison approach to value is most often given the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange. 

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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 case, the amount of income the property yields is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

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The Bottom Line

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the most accurate indication of what a house would sell for in an open market, it probably will not be the final sales price. Depending on the specific circumstances of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down. Regardless, 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. Here's what it all boils down to: An appraiser from M.J. Appraisal will guarantee you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.

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