What is the difference between a valuation and an appraisal?


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Australia’s property market delivered enormous growth during 2021 and with the peak of the market predicted to be in sight, there will likely be many homeowners out there wanting to sell before property prices take their predicted plunge (which by the way…I don’t think will happen the way people are predicting.)

Once you’ve made the decision to sell, the next task is to work out how much your property is worth.

Median PriceRealistically, a property is worth whatever a willing seller is prepared to accept and a willing buyer is prepared to pay for that asset.

But if selling or buying is something on your mind, you’ll need a more accurate estimation.

Sure you can go on an online estimator tool but these are notoriously inaccurate, so realistically you’d need to speak with an experienced and reputable agent or a valuer to get an appraisal or valuation.

The terms property valuation and an appraisal are often interchangeable but they’re actually two very different things.

Simply put, an appraisal is a rough estimate or guide given by a real estate agent whereas a valuation is a legal document that can only be carried out by a certified practising valuer who will charge a fee for that professional service.

Here’s everything you need to know about the difference between the two.

What is a property appraisal?

A property appraisal is when a real estate agent determines and quotes the estimated sale price of your property based on their experience of the area, similar sales, and their knowledge of buyer demand.

A property appraisal will typically take into consideration things like ‘street appeal’, the property’s interior and exterior, and the size of the land.

They’ll also look for things that add value to the property such as ducted air conditioning, quality appliances, or the number of car spaces.

The real estate agent will compare these factors to similar homes that have recently sold in the area and give an estimated figure.

An appraisal is really just an opinion, is offered as a free service by real estate agents and has no legal standing, and should only be used as a guide.

This means it’s in a seller’s best interests to request an appraisal from two or three agents to get the most accurate prediction of what the property might sell for.

When do you need a real estate appraisal?

When you are thinking of putting your property on the market, because appraisals are an estimate rather than a definitive value, they’re best to gauge the local market when planning to sell or rent out your property.

The appraisal cannot be used in a formal capacity.

What is a property valuation?

Price NegotiationsA property valuation is a formal, detailed report undertaken by a certified practising valuer (CPV) that determines a property’s market value and examines the property beyond its size and location.

After a valuer inspects the property in person, they’ll compile a valuation report with details of the zoning, the condition of the property, a review of the property’s land title and identify easements or encumbrances, highlight the highest and best use of the property and address any adverse features about that property which might affect its value.

A big part of the valuation process includes risk ratings, which the bank relies on as part of its decision-making process.

Even if you get a good valuation figure, you may still not be approved for the loan if the risk rating is too high for the bank’s appetite.

Simply put, risk ratings are how the bank determines the level of risk attached to lending against a particular property.

It might even surprise you to know that being located opposite a school can trigger a risk rating.

Risk 1Risk ratings are ranked from 1 (low) through to 5 (high risk).

Depending on how risk-averse your lender is, a rating of 4 or 5 is unlikely to result in getting a green light on your loan application.

These risk ratings include anything from the location, land, environmental issues, the market for the area, predicted future value, and even market segment conditions and volatility.

As valuations are undertaken by professionals, this is a paid service that usually costs between $500 and $800, usually determined by the value and complexity of the report.

When do you need a property valuation?

A property valuation is usually done in a situation where a definitive value is needed.

Buy PropertyFor example, things like property settlements, applying for finance, land tax objection, or dispute resolutions.

Banks and lenders will also use valuers to get a clear and legally-sound estimate of a home’s worth prior to approving a loan or refinancing.

But a formal valuation can also benefit both buyers and sellers in a usual translation.

A valuation helps buyers reduce the risk of overpaying for a property whereas the detailed property analysis can also help sellers decide which renovations would increase a property’s value.

ALSO READ: Can you improve your property valuation?


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