Real Property Appraisals: A Primer

Getting a house can be the most important financial decision most may ever consider. It doesn't matter if it's where you raise your family, a seasonal vacation property or one of many rentals, purchasing real property is an involved financial transaction that requires multiple parties 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 of the participants are very familiar. The real estate agent is the most known person in the transaction. Next, the mortgage company provides the money needed to fund the exchange. Ensuring all requirements of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer to the buyer from the seller is the title company.

So who's responsible for making sure the value of the real estate is consistent with the purchase price?   In comes the appraiser.   We provide an unbiased opinion 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 Arizona licensed appraiser from DY Appraisals, LLC will ensure you as an interested party are informed.

Inspecting the subject property

To determine the true status of the property, it's our duty to first conduct a thorough inspection. We must see features first hand, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, and so on, to ensure they really exist and are in the shape a typical person would expect them to be. To make sure the stated square footage is accurate and convey the layout of the house, the inspection often includes creating a sketch of the floor plan. Most importantly, the appraiser identifies any obvious amenities - or defects - that would have an impact on the value of the house.

Following the inspection, an appraiser employs 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.

Cost Approach

Here, the appraiser uses information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to derive how much it would cost to build a property similar to the one being appraised. This figure commonly sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used method.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers become very familiar with the neighborhoods in which they work. We innately understand the value of specific features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser researches recent transactions in close proximity to the subject and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate being appraised. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, an additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we add or subtract from each comparable's sales price so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject.

  • For example, if the comparable 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, 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. The sales comparison approach to value is most often awarded the most weight when an appraisal is for a home sale.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use an additional method of valuing real estate. In this scenario, the amount of income the real estate yields is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Putting It All Together

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to stipulate an estimated market value for the property at hand. It is important to note that while the appraised value is probably the most accurate indication of what a property would sell for in an open market, 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. But the appraised value is typically employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in case they had to sell the property again.