Understanding the Appraisal Process

A home purchase can be the biggest investment many of us will ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

The majority of the parties participating are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known face in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the money required to finance the exchange. The title company ensures that all areas of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the buyer.

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So, what party is responsible for making sure the real estate is worth the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer might expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Eric C. Hartzog, Appraiser, L.L.C. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

Our first task at Eric C. Hartzog, Appraiser, L.L.C. is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are present and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and describe the layout of the house, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Back at the office, an appraiser uses 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

This is where the appraiser analyzes information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to derive how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This estimate often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, extra bathrooms, additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property 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.
  • However, if the subject has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

After all differences have been accounted for, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. When it comes to putting a value on features of homes in Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge, Eric C. Hartzog, Appraiser, L.L.C. is second to none. The sales comparison approach to value is most often given the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing approach to value is sometimes applied when an area has a measurable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to derive the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a property is worth, it may 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 often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Eric C. Hartzog, Appraiser, L.L.C. will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.