What Is an Appraisal?

Acquiring a house can be the most significant financial decision most people could ever make. Whether it's a primary residence, an additional vacation property or an investment, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Most of the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most familiar face in the transaction. Then, the lender provides the money necessary to bankroll the deal. The title company makes sure that all requirements of the exchange are completed and that a clear title transfers to the buyer from the seller.

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 value of the property is in line with the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Tortorella Appraisals, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the property inspection

Our first task at Tortorella Appraisals, Inc. is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly exist and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is proper and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect 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.

Cost Approach

This is where we pull information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to build a property similar to the one being appraised. This value commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers get to know the communities in which they work. They thoroughly 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 subject at hand. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, 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.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter 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.

In the end, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Tortorella Appraisals, Inc., we are experts when it comes to knowing the value of real estate features in Kingston and Saratoga County neighborhoods. The sales comparison 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 way of valuing real estate is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, 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 stipulate an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the most accurate indication of what a house is worth, it probably will 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 an offer or listing price up or down. But the appraised value is typically employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could recover in case they had to put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Tortorella Appraisals, Inc. will guarantee you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.