Decoding the Appraisal Process

A home purchase can be the biggest financial decision most people could ever encounter. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a second vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

Practically all the parties participating are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most known face in the transaction. Next, the mortgage company provides the money necessary to fund the deal. And ensuring all aspects of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

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So, what party is responsible for making sure the value of the property is consistent with 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 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 begins

Our first duty at Eric C. Hartzog, Appraiser, L.L.C. is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they truly are present and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and describe the layout of the house, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Next, after the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

This is where we pull information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This figure usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, additional bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a storm shelter 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.

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 associating a value with 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 importance when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes employed when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate produces is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property at hand. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not always what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. 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'. 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 case they had to put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Eric C. Hartzog, Appraiser, L.L.C. will guarantee you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.