What Is an Appraisal?

A home purchase is the most serious financial decision many of us may ever make. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, an additional vacation property or an investment, the purchase of real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to see it through.

Practically all the participants are quite familiar. The most familiar face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money required to finance the deal. The title company makes sure that all aspects of the exchange 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, who's responsible for making 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 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 MacBride Appraisal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine the true status of the property, it's our responsibility to first complete a thorough inspection. We must physically view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they truly exist and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To make sure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the property, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

Following the inspection, we use 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

This is where we use information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to construct a property similar to the one being appraised. This figure often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. 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 are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • If, for example, the comparable has an extra half bath that the subject does not, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • If the subject property has an extra half-bathroom and the comparable does not, the appraiser might add an amount to the comparable property.

An opinion of what the subject could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At MacBride Appraisal, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of real estate features in Carlsbad and San Diego County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is most often given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a real estate exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing approach to value is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of income the property generates is factored in with income produced by comparable properties to give an indicator of the current value.

The Bottom Line

Examining the data from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value at the bottom of the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of a property's valuePrices can always be driven up or down by extenuating circumstances like the motivation or urgency of a seller or 'bidding wars'. Regardless, the appraised value is typically used 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 MacBride Appraisal will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.