With the massive amount of technology available to anyone who can access the internet, you might wonder why bother getting a real property appraisal?
With a few quick online searches, in most areas, you can find the parcel number, legal description, and even some potentially comparable sales. Isn’t that all that appraisers do? Slap a few sales in a report, and make a few guesstimate adjustments to come up with their opinion of a property’s value?
Not professional appraisers. The research and analysis that a well-trained professional appraiser can provide you with will include important information above and beyond their opinion of the market value of the property they are appraising. Let’s talk about a few things that a good appraiser will provide in their report that will benefit you if you’re considering having an appraisal completed.
As everyone knows, home sales prices over the past few years were increasing rapidly! In many areas, they have moderated, and in some areas, are in decline. Some of these fluctuations are seasonal, others are due to changes in supply and demand and mortgage interest rates, or a combination of all these factors.
When performing an analysis of the market, good appraisers will not only measure the rate of change in prices of overall properties in a specific market area but perhaps more importantly, the rate of change of homes that compete with the property being appraised. Appraisers must understand why these changes are occurring and explain why in their reporting.
Why is this important? Because the sales we use to compare to the property we are appraising, sold at some time in the past. If prices are changing we must factor that into our opinion of value. So, it is vitally important that appraisers not only perform this analysis but also report their analysis in the appraisal.
If you’re interested in having a property appraised, do you think it would be helpful to know if its value is increasing, decreasing, or staying relatively stable? And if it’s increasing or decreasing, would you like to know how fast? A good appraisal will have that information in it along with how that determination was made.
Another piece of valuable information an appraiser will provide is the accurate square footage of the home they are appraising if they are in a position to measure it. While public records can have square footage that is generally accurate, often they are not. That can have a big impact on market value.
Appraisers will usually measure the home that is on the property, along with any other improvements. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it’s important because when we are comparing the home we are appraising to other homes, we typically will make adjustments for differences in finished square footage. So, the more accurate the square footage being used is, the more supportable the appraiser’s opinion of value will be. Having accurate square footage is also important in determining which sales in the area are really comparable to the property being appraised.
Additionally, appraisers usually need to measure how much the improvements on a property have depreciated. That requires determining how much the improvements would cost to replace. Having an accurate idea of the size of the improvements is necessary for determining accurate replacement costs, which is necessary for determining how much a home has depreciated. Once we know how much the improvements have depreciated, we have a basis for some of the adjustments we make to the sales that we are using for comparison purposes.
Do you think it would be valuable to have an accurate idea of the size of the improvements on the property and how much they have depreciated?
HIGHEST AND BEST USE
Another piece of valuable analysis that an appraisal will provide you with is the Highest and Best Use of the property. This is an analysis that many underestimate, but it can have a huge role in developing market value.
For instance, a property might have a lot that could be split into multiple buildable lots. Some savvy buyers look for properties where they can split the property and sell the second lot as a buildable lot, which might be more valuable than using the property as a larger lot. Wouldn’t that information be valuable to know? A good appraisal will recognize when this is a potential situation and appraise the property accordingly.
Furthermore, sometimes zoning ordinances change and the legal use of the property may change so that the property might be more valuable being used for something other than as a residential property.
Sometimes when zoning changes, if a home is destroyed, it cannot be rebuilt for use as a residential property. This is why it’s vital that the appraiser understands what is legally permissible, which requires reading thru the zoning ordinances and/or having a conversation with the zoning department of the municipality for which the property is located if there is zoning.
If you’re thinking of buying a home, would knowing whether you could continue to use your home as a home if it were to be destroyed, be valuable information to have? Lenders want to know this information because it impacts the value of a property. If your bank or mortgage company says you don’t need an appraisal to get the loan, it makes sense for you to hire your own appraiser so that you can obtain some of this information.
These are just a few pieces of information that a good appraiser will provide in their report. An appraisal can provide the user with valuable information above and beyond just the value.
I should point out that there are two types of appraisal reports. An appraisal report and a restricted appraisal report. If you order a restricted appraisal report, it will likely not give you the detailed analysis that the appraiser performed. That’s why it’s called a restricted report. So, if you desire more information, order an appraisal report. If you don’t need as much detail regarding the appraiser’s research and analysis, go with a restricted report, which may cost a little less. Just realize that a restricted report may not have some of the details of the appraiser’s analysis.
There is a lot of work that a good appraiser will complete to develop a supportable opinion of the value of a property. You will not get this analysis with some wiz-bang online value provider like Zestimate or some other online automated value service.
If you need to know the market value of a property, there is research and analysis that an appraiser will perform that you just cannot get online. So, even if a bank or mortgage company says you don’t need an appraisal, you might still want to get your own because the information it provides may be valuable to you.
If you hire the appraiser, then you are their client and you can ask them about anything you would like about how they developed their opinion of the value of the property. I think that’s a valuable position to be in. Don’t you?
Hopefully, that’s a little food for thought. Since it’s that time of year when we have to get our taxes paid, this week I thought I would leave you with a little humor. this guy summed it up nicely!
Have a great weekend!
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Here are some links to other articles I think you might also enjoy…
Rapping About Housing For Any Occasion – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller
Data Collectors Bring Into Question The Integrity of Modern Appraisals – Birmingham Appraisal Blog
Appraisers: How To Manage Your Emails – APPRAISAL TODAY
Real estate dreams & getting ridiculous under $500K – Sacramento Appraisal Blog
USPAP and Standing Tall – Tim Andersen, The Appraiser’s Advocate Podcast
For my readers in the CLE area… here are some articles related to news in our local area that you may enjoy…
Can the city of Cleveland make better use of its vacant land? Rhonda Crowder of Freshwater Cleveland
Take a hike: Cleveland Metroparks 2023 Trail Challenge is underway; a look back at the 2022 trails – Erin O’brien of Freshwater Cleveland
2 thoughts on “3 Things An Appraisal Should Tell You That You May Not Know”
Measuring and describing the market is my favorite part of the appraisal report. 🙂
It’s one of mine also! 😄 It’s some of the most fascinating parts of the appraisal to me.