Factors That May Determine a Home's Final Appraisal Value

June 7, 2010

So, you have a contract on your home- now what?  In most cases, a professional appraisal will be done on your property to ensure either a mortgage lenders investment on the loan to the buyer or to support the purchase price for an all cash buyer.

One thing to note when your home is appraised: the resulting value is derived from several points of interest. You might think the price of a home is determined by its age and livable condition (to be certain, those are important factors), but oftentimes an appraiser looks at more than the house. Sometimes he will look beyond the actual building.

Here are just a few factors taken into consideration when a house is appraised.

The Overall Market – Is it a “buyer’s market” or a “seller’s market” right now? During a “buyer’s market” period, people looking for homes have the advantage. There will be many homes available, and prices will be competitive. A “seller’s market” is more advantageous, naturally, for the seller. With fewer homes on the market, a seller has more leverage to negotiate a higher price to many buyers bidding for the property.

Location – The old adage of real estate always rings true. Location, location, location! Is your home in a desirable, low-crime neighborhood? Is development booming? Are you near good schools and hospitals? Are you near the ocean, the mountains, the Interstate, or within walking distance to a busy downtown? When you look out the windows, what do you see: the beach, the desert, busy roads, or the city dump? The appraiser takes all of these into consideration to determine a fair price.

Design – With some houses, you can automatically tell when they were built. Like fashion and fads, construction styles change over time. Once upon a time split-level homes were all the rage, while in recent years you may notice subdivisions comprised of attached single-family homes. In certain neighborhoods, you will also detect a pattern, with a particular style repeated every three or so houses. An appraiser will look at the way your house looks when making a price determination. Is it a style of home that will appeal to today’s buyer? Is the color scheme attractive? Do you use vinyl siding? Will a buyer look at your house and say, “It’s perfect!”

Quality of Construction – What is the foundation of your home: brick, concrete, or wood? Are there leaks? Is the roof sturdy? Has anything been added to the building, or remodeled? When an appraiser looks at your home, he will note the sturdiness and potential of the home to determine if one should pay more for it.

Age and Overall Condition – When it comes to certain houses, age may be an advantage. In an historic district, for example, an owner of a hundred-year-old townhome may be able to attract buyers interested in vintage real estate. More so if the house has been cared for very well all this time. Regardless of the age of your home, a property inspector will note wear and tear and overall condition when making a final price.

Rooms – How many rooms does your house have? How many bedrooms, bathrooms? What space is designated for living and recreation? Is there an all-purpose room? These days, people with family tend to drift toward larger houses with such space, while a couple in retirement may want something smaller. What you have to offer a potential buyer will determine for how much the house should sell.

Square Footage – How big is the house? One-story or two? Of the square footage, how much is usable, living space as opposed to space taken up in construction? These days certain people crave more space and may be willing to pay more for it. An appraiser can help determine if your house is worth that price?

Storage – Does your home have an attic, basement, or both? If yes, are they completed and do they provide livable space? Are they divided into rooms? How big is your closet space? The type of storage and amount you offer can be a factor in a high appraisal of your property.

Heating and Air – Does your home have central air or must you rely on window units to keep cool? Is your home heated by electric, gas, or oil? How your home is heated and cooled can be a factor in determining the price of your home. Will a buyer want to pay more for a home knowing he has to install AC and change out gas heat he doesn’t want? These are things to consider.

Parking – Is there a garage? One-car, two-car, attached or detached? Is there a carport? If you live in an urban area, does your home or condo come with its own parking space? This type of convenience (or inconvenience) is looked at often when appraising home values.

Kathryn Lively