profile picture

English French Spanish

What Is an Appraisal?

A home purchase can be the largest investment many people will ever encounter. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation home or an investment, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most recognizable face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the mortgage company provides the money required to finance the deal. And the title company sees to it that all details of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer 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 real estate is consistent with the purchase price? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased opinion of what a buyer could 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 Larkins Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first responsibility at Larkins Appraisal Services is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see features hands on, 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. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is accurate and illustrating the layout of the property. Most importantly, we identify any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

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

Replacement Cost

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

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in the vicinity and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, we adjust the comparable properties so that they more accurately portray the features of subject.

  • If, for example, 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.
  • However, 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 valid estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Larkins Appraisal Services, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Kingsport and Sullivan County neighborhoods. This approach to value is most often given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third method of valuing a house. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate yields is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily the final sales price even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. Depending on the individual situations of the buyer or seller, their level of urgency or a buyer's desire for that exact property, the closing price of a home can always be driven up or down.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 get back in case they had to sell the property again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Larkins Appraisal Services will help you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.