What Is an Appraisal?

A home purchase can be the most important investment many people could ever consider. Whether it's a main residence, a second vacation home or a rental fixer upper, purchasing real property is a detailed financial transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

Most of the people participating are quite familiar. The most recognizable entity in the transaction is the real estate agent. Then, the bank provides the financial capital required to bankroll the exchange. And ensuring all requirements of the transaction are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller 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 in line with the amount being paid? This is where you meet the appraiser. We provide an unbiased opinion 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 Alaska Real Estate Appraisal will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Appraisals start with the inspection

Our first responsibility at Alaska Real Estate Appraisal is to inspect the property to ascertain 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 exist and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property is accurate and illustrate the layout of the property, the inspection often requires creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, we identify any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Once the site has been inspected, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: sales comparison and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, we pull information on local construction costs, the cost of labor and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This value usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the subdivisions in which they appraise. They innately understand the value of particular features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the subject being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as fireplaces, room layout, appliance upgrades, extra bathrooms or bedrooms, or quality of construction, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable 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.

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. When it comes to putting a value on features of homes in Palmer and Matanuska Susitna, Alaska Real Estate Appraisal can't be beat. This approach to value is most often given the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a property is sometimes used when an area has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with income produced by similar properties to determine the current value.

Putting It All Together

Analyzing the data from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to state an estimated market value for the subject property. The estimate of value on the appraisal report is not always 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. But the appraised value is typically used as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in the event they had to sell the property again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Alaska Real Estate Appraisal will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.