What Is an Appraisal?

Getting a home is the most significant financial decision most of us might ever make. Whether it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a complex financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Most people are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The most familiar face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the bank provides the money required to bankroll the transaction. The title company makes sure that all areas 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 makes sure the real estate 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 licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Frigoletto & Associates Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the inspection

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first perform a thorough inspection. We must physically see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really exist and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage has not been misrepresented and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would have an impact on 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 pulls information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate 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 can tell you a lot about the neighborhoods in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject in question. By assigning a dollar value to certain items such as square footage, extra bathrooms, hardwood floors, fireplaces or view lots (just to name a few), we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they more accurately match the features of subject.

  • If, for example, the comparable property 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.
  • 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 Frigoletto & Associates Inc., we are experts in knowing the worth of real estate features in Leominster and Worcester County neighborhoods. This approach to value is usually given the most importance when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes applied when an area has a measurable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Coming Up With The Final Value

Examining the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the most reliable indication of what a house 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'. 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 put the property on the market again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Frigoletto & Associates Inc. will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.