What Is an Appraisal?

Buying a home can be the most serious transaction most people may ever encounter. It doesn't matter if a primary residence, a second vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties to pull it all off.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties having a role in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most familiar face in the exchange. Next, the lender provides the financial capital required to finance the deal. And ensuring all areas of the sale are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

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 consistent with the purchase price? In comes the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 STEVEN GIANNINI & ASSOCIATES will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed exist and are in the condition a typical person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is correct and conveying the layout of the property. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious features - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

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

Cost Approach

Here, we pull 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 value often sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. They thoroughly 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 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 adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable property 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 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.

A true estimate of what the subject might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At STEVEN GIANNINI & ASSOCIATES, we are an authority when it comes to knowing the worth of particular items in Glen Ellyn and Dupage County neighborhoods. This approach to value is most often awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use an additional method of valuing real estate. In this scenario, the amount of income the property produces is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to determine the current value.

Putting It All Together

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 on the appraisal report is not necessarily what's being paid for the property even though it is likely the best indication of what a property is worth. There are always mitigating factors such as the seller's desire to get out of the property, urgency or 'bidding wars' that may adjust an offer or listing price up or down. Regardless, the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property is actually worth. The bottom line is, an appraiser from STEVEN GIANNINI & ASSOCIATES will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.