What Is an Appraisal?

Purchasing a house can be the most serious investment many people may ever consider. It doesn't matter if where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, the purchase of real property is a complex transaction that requires multiple parties to make it all happen.

It's likely you are familiar with the parties taking part in the transaction. The most known face in the exchange is the real estate agent. Next, the lender provides the financial capital needed to finance the deal. The title company makes sure that all aspects of the sale are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller.

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 in line 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 Zenith Appraisal Services will ensure, you as an interested party, are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To ascertain the true status of the property, it's our duty to first perform a thorough inspection. We must actually view aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they truly are there and are in the shape a reasonable buyer would expect them to be. To ensure the stated size of the property has not been misrepresented and convey the layout of the house, the inspection often entails creating a sketch of the floorplan. Most importantly, the appraiser looks for any obvious amenities - or defects - that would affect the value of the house.

Back at the office, we use two or three approaches to determining the value of real property: paired sales analysis and, in the case of a rental property, an income approach.

Replacement Cost

Here, the appraiser pulls information on local construction costs, labor rates and other elements to derive 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. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Paired Sales Analysis

Appraisers become very familiar with the communities in which they work. They innately understand the value of specific features to the people of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent sales in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. By assigning a dollar value to 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.

  • For example, if the comparable property has an extra half bath that the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of that half bath 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 Zenith Appraisal Services, we are experts in knowing the value of real estate features in Aurora and Arapahoe County neighborhoods. This approach to value is typically given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home exchange.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - we may use a third approach to value. In this situation, the amount of income the property produces is factored in with income produced by neighboring properties to determine 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 this amount is probably the most accurate indication of what a property is worth, it probably will not be the price at which the property closes. Depending on the specific situations 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 they could recover in case they had to put the property on the market again. At the end of the day, an appraiser from Zenith Appraisal Services will help you attain the most accurate property value, so you can make wise real estate decisions.