Home Appraisals: A Primer

One's home purchase can be the largest investment many people might ever encounter. It doesn't matter if it's a main residence, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is a detailed transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to pull it all off.

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



Most people are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The real estate agent is the most familiar person in the exchange. Then, the mortgage company provides the financial capital necessary to fund the exchange. Ensuring all aspects of the transaction are completed and that a clear title passes from the seller to the buyer is the title company.

So what party makes sure the value of the real estate is in line with the purchase price?   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 professional New York licensed appraiser from North Country Appraisals will ensure you as an interested party are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal begins

To ascertain an accurate status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must see aspects of the property hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, living areas, etc., to ensure they indeed exist and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and document the layout of the home, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floor plan. Most importantly, we look for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the property.

After the inspection, we use two or three approaches when determining the value of real property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, we pull information on local construction costs, labor rates and other factors to figure out how much it would cost to build a property comparable to the one being appraised. This value often sets the maximum on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers get to know the subdivisions in which they appraise. We thoroughly understand the value of particular features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the property at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as square footage, additional 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.

  • Say, for example, the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, 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.

When it comes to putting a value on features of homes in Clayton and Jefferson, North Country Appraisals can't be beat. This approach to value is most often given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third method of valuing a property is sometimes employed when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this situation, the amount of revenue the property yields is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to determine the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Examining the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to put down an estimated market value for the property in question. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the best indication of what a house would sell for in an open market, it may not be the final sales price. 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. But the appraised value is often used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than the property would likely sell for in an open marketplace. The bottom line is: An appraiser from North Country Appraisals will guarantee you get the most accurate property value, so you can make the most informed real estate decisions.



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