What Goes Into an Appraisal?

Acquiring a house can be the biggest financial decision many may ever make. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, an additional vacation property or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is an involved 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 known face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the money necessary to fund the exchange. The title company sees to it that all details of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to pass from the seller to the purchaser.

To learn more about appraising, click here to see a short video or call us today to talk about your specific property.

So, who makes sure the value of the property is consistent with 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 property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A licensed, certified, professional appraiser from Nordquist Appraisal LLC will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first task at Nordquist Appraisal LLC is to inspect the property to determine its true status. We must physically view features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc, to ensure they really are there and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the floorplan, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the property.

Once the site has been inspected, we use 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 analyzes information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to derive how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure commonly sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the home at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has a fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace 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.

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 Nordquist Appraisal LLC, we are an authority in knowing the worth of real estate features in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County neighborhoods. The sales comparison approach to value is usually awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes used when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of rental properties. In this case, the amount of income the real estate yields is factored in with income produced by similar properties to determine the current value.

The Bottom Line

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property at hand. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. Depending on the individual circumstances 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 typically used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Nordquist Appraisal LLC will help you attain the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.

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