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What Is an Appraisal?

A home purchase can be the most significant investment some of us may ever make. Whether it's a main residence, an additional vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple people working in concert to make it all happen.

The majority of the people participating are quite familiar. The most known face in the transaction is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the financial capital necessary to finance the deal. And ensuring all aspects of the transaction are completed and that a clear title transfers from the seller to the buyer 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, what party makes sure the value of the property is consistent with the amount being paid? This is where the appraiser comes in. We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer could 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 Crest Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

Our first duty at Crest Appraisal Services is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must see features hands on, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they indeed are present and are in the condition a typical buyer would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the property, ensuring the square footage is proper 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.

Following the inspection, an appraiser uses two or three approaches to determining the value of the property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

This is where we use information on local building costs, the cost of labor and other factors to calculate how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This estimate usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. It's also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers get to know the communities in which they appraise. They thoroughly understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent sales in the neighborhood and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate in question. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as remodeled rooms, types of flooring, energy efficient items, patios and porches, or additional storage space, 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 fireplace and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may deduct the value of a fireplace from the sales price of the comparable home.
  • However, 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 might sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. At Crest Appraisal Services, we are experts when it comes to knowing the value of real estate features in Seattle and King County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically awarded the most importance when an appraisal is for a real estate purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

A third way of valuing a house is sometimes applied when a neighborhood has a reasonable number of renter occupied properties. In this case, the amount of income the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with income produced by neighboring properties to give an indicator of the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all applicable approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the subject property. Note: While the appraised value is probably the strongest indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the final sales price. Depending on the specific 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. It all comes down to this, an appraiser from Crest Appraisal Services will help you get the most accurate property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.