What is an appraisal?

Purchasing real estate can be the biggest investment many of us might ever encounter. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

To learn more about appraising, click here to see a short video or call me today to talk about your specific property.


It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most familiar face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to bankroll the exchange. The title company ensures 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 what party is responsible for making sure the property is worth the amount being paid?   In comes the appraiser.   We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay - or a seller receive - for a parcel of real estate, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A professional Pennsylvania licensed appraiser from Wickwire Appraisals Inc will ensure you as an interested party are informed.

Appraisals begin with the property inspection

My first responsibility at Wickwire Appraisals Inc is to inspect the property to determine its true status. I must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are present and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the property, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floor plan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

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

Cost Approach

Here, the appraiser uses information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to determine 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.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, an additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable.
  • If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

A true estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. Wickwire Appraisals Inc. is an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in our neighborhoods. This approach to value is usually given 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 - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of revenue the real estate produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Reconciliation

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's value Prices can always 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 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 Wickwire Appraisals Inc will help you discover the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.