Real Estate Appraisals: A Primer

Acquiring real estate can be the biggest transaction many people might ever make. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

The majority of the people involved are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable person in the exchange. Then, the lender provides the money necessary to finance the exchange. And the title company sees to it that all requirements of the transaction 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, who's responsible for making sure the real estate is worth 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 property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Mannion Appraisals will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Mannion Appraisals is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must physically see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a typical person would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser gathers information on local building costs, labor rates and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This figure often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions 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.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has a fireplace and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable.
  • 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 might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Mannion Appraisals, we are experts when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Oak Lawn and Cook County neighborhoods. This approach to value is usually awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a house is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by nearby properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the best indication of what a house is worth, it may not be the price at which the property closes. There are always mitigating factors such as seller motivation, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust the final price up or down. 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 recover in the event they had to put the property on the market again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Mannion Appraisals will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.