Welcome To The National Home Appraiser Directory
Real estate appraisal, property valuation or land valuation is the process of developing an opinion of value for real property (usually market value). Real estate transactions often require appraisals because they occur infrequently and every property is unique (especially their condition, a key factor in valuation), unlike corporate stocks, which are traded daily and are identical (thus a centralized Walrasian auction like a stock exchange is unrealistic). The location also plays a key role in valuation. However, since property cannot change location, it is often the upgrades or improvements to the home that can change its value. Appraisal reports form the basis for mortgage loans, settling estates and divorces, taxation, and so on. Sometimes an appraisal report is used to establish a sale price for a property.
Besides of the mandatory educational grade, which can vary from Finance to Construction Technology, most, but not all, countries require appraisers to have the license for the practice. Usually, the real estate appraiser has the opportunity to reach 3 levels of certification: Appraisal Trainee, Licensed Appraiser and Certified Appraiser.
The second and third levels of license require no less than 2000 experience hours in 12 months and 2500 experience hours in no less than 24 months respectively. Appraisers are often known as “property valuers” or “land valuers”; in British English they are “valuation surveyors”. If the appraiser’s opinion is based on market value, then it must also be based on the highest and best use of the real property.
In the United States, mortgage valuations of improved residential properties are generally reported on a standardized form like the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report. Appraisals of more commercial properties (e.g., income-producing, raw land) are often reported in narrative format and completed by a Certified General Appraiser.
Types of value
There are several types and definitions of value sought by a real estate appraisal. Some of the most common are:
Market value – The price at which an asset would trade in a competitive Walrasian auction setting. Market value is usually interchangeable with open market value or fair value. International Valuation Standards (IVS) define:
Market value – the estimated amount for which an asset or liability should exchange on the valuation date between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s length transaction, after proper marketing and where the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently and without compulsion.
Value-in-use, or use value – The net present value (NPV) of a cash flow that an asset generates for a specific owner under a specific use. Value-in-use is the value to one particular user, and may be above or below the market value of a property.
Investment value – is the value to one particular investor, and may or may not be higher than the market value of a property. Differences between the investment value of an asset and its market value provide the motivation for buyers or sellers to enter the marketplace. International Valuation Standards (IVS) define:
Investment value – the value of an asset to the owner or a prospective owner for individual investment or operational objectives.
Insurable value – is the value of real property covered by an insurance policy. Generally, it does not include the site value.
Liquidation value – may be analyzed as either a forced liquidation or an orderly liquidation and is a commonly sought standard of value in bankruptcy proceedings. It assumes a seller who is compelled to sell after an exposure period which is less than the market-normal time-frame.
Price vs value
There can be differences between what the property is really worth (market value) and what it cost to buy it (price). A price paid might not represent that property’s market value. Sometimes, special considerations may have been present, such as a special relationship between the buyer and the seller where one party had control or significant influence over the other party.
In other cases, the transaction may have been just one of several properties sold or traded between two parties. In such cases, the price paid for any particular piece is not its market “value” (with the idea usually being, though, that all the pieces and prices add up to the market value of all the parts) but rather its market “price”.
At other times, a buyer may willingly pay a premium price, above the generally accepted market value, if his subjective valuation of the property (its investment value for him) was higher than the market value. One specific example of this is an owner of a neighboring property who, by combining his own property with the subject property, could obtain economies-of-scale. Similar situations sometimes happen in corporate finance.
For example, this can occur when a merger or acquisition happens at a price which is higher than the value represented by the price of the underlying stock. The usual explanation for these types of mergers and acquisitions is that “the sum is greater than its parts”, since full ownership of a company provides full control of it. This is something that purchasers will sometimes pay a high price for. This situation can happen in real estate purchases too.
Market value definitions in the United States
In the United States, appraisals are for a certain type of value (e.g., foreclosure value, fair market value, distressed sale value, investment value). The most commonly used definition of value is Market Value. While Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) does not define Market Value, it provides general guidance for how Market Value should be defined:
A type of value, stated as an opinion, that presumes the transfer of a property (i.e., a right of ownership or a bundle of such rights), as of a certain date, under specific conditions set forth in the definition of the term identified by the appraiser as applicable in an appraisal.
Thus, the definition of value used in an appraisal or Current Market Analysis (CMA) analysis and report is a set of assumptions about the market in which the subject property may transact. It affects the choice of comparable data for use in the analysis. It can also affect the method used to value the property. For example, tree value can contribute up to 27% of property value.[8
Three approaches to value
There are three traditional groups of methodologies for determining value. These are usually referred to as the “three approaches to value” which are generally independent of each other:
The sales comparison approach (comparing a property’s characteristics with those of comparable properties that have recently sold in similar transactions).
The cost approach (the buyer will not pay more for a property than it would cost to build an equivalent).
The income approach (similar to the methods used for financial valuation, securities analysis or bond pricing).
However, the recent trend of the business tends to be toward the use of a scientific methodology of appraisal which relies on the foundation of quantitative-data, risk, and geographical based approaches. Pagourtzi et al. have provided a review on the methods used in the industry by comparison between conventional approaches and advanced ones.
The sales comparison approach
The sales comparison approach is based primarily on the principle of substitution. This approach assumes a prudent (or rational) individual will pay no more for a property than it would cost to purchase a comparable substitute property. The approach recognizes that a typical buyer will compare asking prices and seek to purchase the property that meets his or her wants and needs for the lowest cost. In developing the sales comparison approach, the appraiser attempts to interpret and measure the actions of parties involved in the marketplace, including buyers, sellers, and investors.
Data collection methods and valuation process
Data is collected on recent sales of properties similar to the subject being valued, called “comparables”. Only SOLD properties may be used in an appraisal and determination of a property’s value, as they represent amounts actually paid or agreed upon for properties. Sources of comparable data include real estate publications, public records, buyers, sellers, real estate brokers and/or agents, appraisers, and so on. Important details of each comparable sale are described in the appraisal report.
If a home inspection is performed prior to the appraisal and that report is provided to the appraiser, a more useful appraisal can result. This is because the appraiser, who is not an expert home inspector, will be told if there are substantial construction defects or major repairs required.
This information can cause the appraiser to arrive at a different, probably lower, opinion of value. This information may be particularly helpful if one or both of the parties requesting the appraisal may end up in possession of the property. This is sometimes the case with property in a divorce settlement or a legal judgment.
Real estate appraisal and data entry
Appraisers provide all the data needed to input in appraisal reports. A data entry team does the rest; it searches, consolidates and types the data into reports, such as subject data and comparable grid prior sales history. Most data entry organizations work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The appraiser sends empty reports, and the data entry team works all day and night, even while the appraiser is sleeping. This process increases the appraiser’s efficiency, and frees up his/her time.