What Is an Appraisal?

Buying a home can be the most significant transaction most of us will ever consider. Whether it's a primary residence, a second vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

Practically all the parties participating are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the exchange. Next, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to finance the deal. The title company sees to it that all areas of the sale are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the buyer.

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So, what party makes sure the value of the real estate is in line with the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. 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 Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine an accurate status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must physically view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they indeed exist and are in the shape a typical buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property is accurate and illustrate the layout of the home, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Following the inspection, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: a paired sales analysis, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Cost Approach

Here, we pull information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to ascertain how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This estimate commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers can tell you a lot about the subdivisions in which they work. They innately understand the value of particular features to the residents of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or extra storage space, 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 has a storm shelter and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract 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.

A valid estimate of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Shamrock Appraisals, Inc., we are an authority when it comes to knowing the value of real estate features in Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County neighborhoods. This approach to value is commonly awarded the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home sale.

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 property. In this scenario, the amount of income the property generates is taken into consideration along with income produced by nearby properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Analyzing the data from all applicable 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. 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.But the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could recover in the event they had to sell the property again. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Shamrock Appraisals, Inc. will help you discover the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.