What Is an Appraisal?

Their home's purchase is the largest financial decision some of us could ever encounter. Whether it's where you raise your family, a second vacation home or an investment, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to see it through.

Practically all the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most familiar person in the transaction. Then, the bank provides the financial capital needed to finance the exchange. The title company makes sure that all areas of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes 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 property is worth the purchase price? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer could expect to pay — or a seller receive — for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Hertzler & Associates Real Estate Appraisers will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals begin with the home inspection

Our first responsibility at Hertzler & Associates Real Estate Appraisers is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must actually see features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they really are there and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and convey the layout of the home, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser analyzes information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to determine how much it would cost to build a property nearly identical to the one being appraised. This value usually sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Sales Comparison

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • For example, if the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may deduct the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • 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.

Once all necessary adjustments have been made, the appraiser reconciles the adjusted sales prices of all the comps and then derives an opinion of what the subject could sell for. At Hertzler & Associates Real Estate Appraisers, we are experts in knowing the value of real estate features in Williamsburg and James City County neighborhoods. This approach to value is commonly 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 - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with other rents in the area for comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Putting It All Together

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the subject property. 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 final sales price. 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 employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Hertzler & Associates Real Estate Appraisers will help you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.