profile picture

What is an appraisal?

A home purchase can be the biggest transaction many could ever consider. Whether it's where you raise your family, an additional vacation home or a rental fixer upper, the purchase of real property is a detailed 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.


The majority of the participants are quite familiar. The real estate agent is the most recognizable entity in the transaction. Then, the mortgage company provides the money required to finance the transaction. Ensuring all areas of the exchange are completed and that the title is clear to transfer from the seller to the purchaser is the title company.

So who makes sure the value of the real estate is consistent with the amount being paid?   This is where you meet the appraiser.   We provide an unbiased estimate of what a buyer could expect to pay - or a seller receive - for a property, where both buyer and seller are informed parties. A professional Colorado licensed appraiser from Michael Long will ensure you as an interested party are informed.

The inspection is where an appraisal starts

Our first duty at Michael Long is to inspect the property to ascertain its true status. We must actually see aspects of the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the location, amenities, etc., to ensure they really are there and are in the shape a reasonable person would expect them to be. The inspection often includes a sketch of the house, ensuring the square footage is accurate and illustrating 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.

Once the site has been inspected, we use two or three approaches when determining the value of real property: a sales comparison, a replacement cost calculation, and an income approach when rental properties are prevalent.

Cost Approach

This is where the appraiser analyzes information on local building costs, labor rates and other elements to calculate how much it would cost to replace the property being appraised. This figure usually sets the upper limit on what a property would sell for. The cost approach is also the least used predictor of value.

Analyzing Comparable Sales

Appraisers are intimately familiar with the neighborhoods in which they appraise. We thoroughly understand the value of certain features to the homeowners of that area. Then, the appraiser looks up recent transactions in the area and finds properties which are 'comparable' to the real estate at hand. Using knowledge of the value of certain items such as upgraded appliances, additional bathrooms, an additional living area, quality of construction, lot size, we adjust the comparable properties so that they are more accurately in line with the features of subject property.

  • Say, for example, the comparable has an irrigation system and the subject doesn't, the appraiser may subtract the value of an irrigation system from the sales price of the comparable.
  • But, 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 could sell for can only be determined once all differences between the comps and the subject have been evaluated. This approach to value is usually given the most consideration when an appraisal is for a home purchase.

Valuation Using the Income Approach

In the case of income producing properties - rental houses for example - the appraiser may use a third approach to value. In this case, the amount of revenue the real estate generates is taken into consideration along with other rents in the area for comparable properties to derive the current value.

Arriving at a Value Conclusion

Combining information from all approaches, the appraiser is then ready to document an estimated market value for the property in question. Note: While this amount is probably the best indication of what a property would sell for in an open market, it probably will not be the final sales price. Depending on the individual 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 employed as a guideline for lenders who don't want to loan a buyer more money than they could get back in the event they had to put the property on the market again. The bottom line is: An appraiser from Michael Long will guarantee you get the most fair and balanced property value, so you can make profitable real estate decisions.