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 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.
There are several types and definitions of value sought by a real estate appraisal. Some of the most common are:
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 (assemblage), could obtain economies-of-scale and added value (plottage value). 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.
But the most common reason for value differing from price is that either the buyer or the seller is uninformed as to what a property's market value is but nevertheless agrees on a contract at a certain price which is either too expensive or too cheap. This is unfortunate for one of the two parties. It is the obligation of a real property appraiser to estimate the true market value of a property and not its market price.
Frequently, properties are assessed at a value below their market values; this is known as fractional assessment. Fractional assessment can result in properties that are assessed at 10% or less of their given market values.
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.
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:
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.
As mentioned before, an appraiser can generally choose from three approaches to determine value. One or two of these approaches will usually be most applicable, with the other approach or approaches usually being less useful. The appraiser has to think about the "scope of work", the type of value, the property itself, and the quality and quantity of data available for each approach. No overarching statement can be made that one approach or another is always better than one of the other approaches.
The appraiser has to think about the way that most buyers usually buy a given type of property. What appraisal method do most buyers use for the type of property being valued? This generally guides the appraiser's thinking on the best valuation method, in conjunction with the available data. For instance, appraisals of properties that are typically purchased by investors (e.g., skyscrapers, office buildings) may give greater weight to the Income Approach. Buyers interested in purchasing single family residential property would rather compare price, in this case, the Sales Comparison Approach (market analysis approach) would be more applicable. The third and final approach to value is the Cost Approach to value. The Cost Approach to value is most useful in determining insurable value, and cost to construct a new structure or building.
For example, single apartment buildings of a given quality tend to sell at a particular price per apartment. In many of those cases, the sales comparison approach may be more applicable. On the other hand, a multiple-building apartment complex would usually be valued by the income approach, as that would follow how most buyers would value it. As another example, single-family houses are most commonly valued with the greatest weighting to the sales comparison approach. However, if a single-family dwelling is in a neighborhood where all or most of the dwellings are rental units, then some variant of the income approach may be more useful. So the choice of valuation method can change depending upon the circumstances, even if the property being valued does not change much.
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 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. Since comparable sales are not identical to the subject property, adjustments may be made for date of sale, location, style, amenities, square footage, site size, etc. The main idea is to simulate the price that would have been paid if each comparable sale were identical to the subject property. If the comparable is superior to the subject in a factor or aspect, then a downward adjustment is needed for that factor.[clarification needed] Likewise, if the comparable is inferior to the subject in an aspect, then an upward adjustment for that aspect is needed.[clarification needed] The adjustment is somewhat subjective and relies on the appraiser's training and experience. From the analysis of the group of adjusted sales prices of the comparable sales, the appraiser selects an indicator of value that is representative of the subject property. It is possible for various appraisers to choose a different indicator of value which ultimately will provide different property value.
The cost approach was once called the summation approach. The theory is that the value of a property can be estimated by summing the land value and the depreciated value of any improvements. The value of the improvements is often referred to by the abbreviation RCNLD (for "reproduction/replacement cost new less depreciation"). Reproduction refers to reproducing an exact replica; replacement cost refers to the cost of building a house or other improvement which has the same utility, but using modern design, workmanship and materials. In practice, appraisers almost always use replacement cost and then deduct a factor for any functional dis-utility associated with the age of the subject property. An exception to the general rule of using the replacement cost is for some insurance value appraisals. In those cases, reproduction of the exact asset after a destructive event like a fire is the goal.
In most instances when the cost approach is involved, the overall methodology is a hybrid of the cost and sales comparison approaches (representing both the suppliers' costs and the prices that customers are seeking). For example, the replacement cost to construct a building can be determined by adding the labor, material, and other costs. On the other hand, land values and depreciation must be derived from an analysis of comparable sales data.
The cost approach is considered most reliable when used on newer structures, but the method tends to become less reliable for older properties. The cost approach is often the only reliable approach when dealing with special use properties (e.g., public assembly, marinas).
Main article: Income approach
The income capitalization Approach (often referred to simply as the "income approach") is used to value commercial and investment properties. Because it is intended to directly reflect or model the expectations and behaviors of typical market participants, this approach is generally considered the most applicable valuation technique for income-producing properties, where sufficient market data exists.
In a commercial income-producing property this approach capitalizes an income stream into a value indication. This can be done using revenue multipliers or capitalization rates applied to a Net Operating Income (NOI). Usually, an NOI has been stabilized so as not to place too much weight on a very recent event. An example of this is an unleased building which, technically, has no NOI. A stabilized NOI would assume that the building is leased at a normal rate, and to usual occupancy levels. The Net Operating Income (NOI) is gross potential income (GPI), less vacancy and collection loss (= Effective Gross Income) less operating expenses (but excluding debt service, income taxes, and/or depreciation charges applied by accountants).
Alternatively, multiple years of net operating income can be valued by a discounted cash flow analysis (DCF) model. The DCF model is widely used to value larger and more expensive income-producing properties, such as large office towers or major shopping centres. This technique applies market-supported yields (or discount rates) to projected future cash flows (such as annual income figures and typically a lump reversion from the eventual sale of the property) to arrive at a present value indication. In Canada, reversion values typically range from 16x-21x the NOI of year of sale.
When homes are purchased for personal use the buyer can validate the asking price by using the income approach in the opposite direction. An expected rate of return can be estimated by comparing net expected costs to the asking price. This return can be compared to the home owner's other investing opportunities.
In the United Kingdom, valuation methodology has traditionally been classified into five methods:
1. Comparative method. Used for most types of property where there is good evidence of previous sales. This is analogous to the sales comparison approach outlined above.
2. Investment method, also known as hardcore. Used for most commercial (and residential) property that is producing future cash flows through the letting of the property. This method compares the estimated rental value (ERV), or "top slice" to the current ("passing") income, or "bottom slice", to give an indication of whether the future value of the property should rise or fall based on income. If a property's income is higher than the ERV this is sometimes known as "froth", which may be confused with the US use of "froth" describing the period before a real estate bubble.
The cash flows can be compared to the market-determined equivalent yield, and the property value can be determined by means of a simple model. Note that this method is really a comparison method, since the main variables are determined in the market. In standard U.S. practice, however, the closely related capitalizing of NOI is confounded with the DCF method under the general classification of the income capitalization approach (see above).
3. Residual method. Used for properties ripe for development or redevelopment or for bare land only. The site or unimproved property value is based on the improved or developed value less costs of construction, professional fees, development finance costs and a developer's profit or return on risk.[clarification needed]
4. Profit method. Used for trading properties where evidence of rates is slight, such as hotels, restaurants and old-age homes. A three-year average of operating income (derived from the profit and loss or income statement) is capitalized using an appropriate yield. Note that since the variables used are inherent to the property and are not market-derived, therefore unless appropriate adjustments are made, the resulting value will be value-in-use or investment value, not market value.
5. Cost method. Used for land and buildings of special character for which profit figures cannot be obtained or land and buildings for which there is no market because of their public service or heritage characteristics. Both the residual method and the cost method would be grouped in the United States under the cost approach (see above).
Under the current RICS Valuation Standards, the following bases of value are recognized:
The common public experience of chartered surveyors is in the process of obtaining a mortgage loan. A mortgage valuation will be required by any mortgage lender as a condition of obtaining a mortgage loan. The homebuyer may take the option to instruct the same surveyor to carry out a "RICS HomeBuyer Report" or a "RICS Building Survey" (sometimes called a "Structural Survey"), usually at additional cost. When the surveyor is instructed in this combined role, the mortgage valuation is still produced for the lender, and the HomeBuyer Report or Building Survey is additionally prepared for the borrower. This arrangement can avoid the potential conflict of interest where the surveyor has as client both the lender and the borrower in the transaction. Because of the ethics and professional liability aspect, borrowers should note that the lender's survey is produced solely for the lender and the surveyor will not be liable for loss or omission to the borrower. Since reform of the RICS Red Book of valuation practice in recent years, the definition of a mortgage valuation has been deleted. It is now a market valuation which is the same definition given to the valuation in the RICS HomeBuyer Report.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders recommends that buyers should not rely only on the mortgage valuation, but obtain a fuller survey for their own purposes. However, a fuller survey is rarely a condition of the loan.
The borrower may prefer to select an independent surveyor to undertake the HomeBuyer Report or Building Survey.
A mortgage valuation is for the benefit of the lender. Its purpose is merely to confirm the property is worth the price paid, in order to protect the lender's interests. Invariably there is a disclaimer on the report that confirms that the surveyor has no responsibility to the borrower. This is a legally valid exclusion.
Under the reforms undertaken by RICS in the early 21st century to better regulate the provision of professional products to the general public, a sector that is usually unable to fully appreciate the consequences of inadequate specification of the required items to be surveyed and how they are reported, RICS produced a new range of consumer products with RICS branding. Three consumer products are now available - 1. RICS Condition Report 2. RICS HomeBuyer Report 3. RICS Building Survey These products have a consistent appearance over the range, with common typefaces and general format. The distinctions come in the detail that is subsequently provided. These are discussed below.
This is short report that looks briefly at the property to report on the visual condition of nine external elements of construction, nine internal elements of construction, seven services supplied to the building, and three key components of the grounds in which the property is sited. The reports rates conditions from 1 - good, 2, - needing attention in the near future, 3 - needing attention now using a traffic light system to draw attention to things that matter.
In practice this report is of little value to the buyer unless the surveyor attends at the same time as the buyer is carrying out a viewing and wants an early indication of general condition, making the most of the surveyor's expert knowledge about how buildings can fail that are not obvious to the average buyer. Some surveyors agree to carry out these surveys as a precursor to then extending the service with a more detailed report in either of the other two types in the RICS Home Surveys suite. Usually, the fee for the first report is discounted in the fee for the detailed follow up report, since when the surveyor returns to the property, there is already an understanding of what problems are in the property.
This document format has been revised in 2010 to include an easy to assimilate format for the reader. The problem with the earlier format often reported to RICS by clients in receipt of the previous 'Homebuyer's Survey and Valuation' was that the structure did not easily distinguish the faults from the main description. A traffic light system was introduced and surveyors have to rate each element of the inspection according to priority. In this way, serious impediments are identified easily, and less critical defects commented upon to give the reader advice on what will need attention in the near future. It does not comment on the maintenance requirements for items found to be in satisfactory condition, only confirming that there is no cause for concern at this time. This format is suitable for a wide range of properties, but is best suited to traditionally built houses that are not subject to very serious distress or previous major alterations or extensions. This report is much longer than the condition report and looks in more detail at the property to report on the visual condition and maintenance needs of nine external elements of construction, nine internal elements of construction, seven services supplied to the building, and three key components of the grounds in which the property is sited. The reports rates conditions from 1 - good, 2, - needing attention in the near future, 3 - needing attention now using a traffic light system to draw attention to things that matter. The report also includes commentary to advise your solicitor on issues that need addressing in the conveyance, and any risks that affect the building, grounds and people of a more general nature. There is also a market valuation of the property and an assessment of rebuilding costs for insurance purposes.
Not all chartered surveyors are permitted to undertake providing the RICS HomeBuyer Report as it contains a market valuation. Under rules of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, any surveyor undertaking these surveys must also be an RICS Registered Valuer and carry professional indemnity insurance for this task. This is an attempt by RICS to provide consumer confidence after the older valuation reports came into disrepute.
There are a number of variations to a residential building survey which offers the home purchaser a choice of products. The two main variants are the RICS Guidance note version stemming from the earlier RICS guidance note 2004 (more recently updated by the "Surveys of residential property RICS guidance note 3rd edition" which was introduced in December 2013). The primary difference between guidance note and the practice note for the consumer is the format of the reports. A bespoke style or a framework (traffic light signal) style. For surveyors guidance is "best practice" and practice note is "mandatory".
The guidance note version can be provided in an agreed word document style format with an appendix for photographs etc. There is also a choice (at extra commissioning cost) to add a market valuation and other services such as costing for repairs and project management / further investigation services by agreement as cited at the end of this description. In effect, is a fully bespoke report.
The alternative is the practice note version (introduced to the market in November 2012). It is a similar traffic light signal format as the other RICS survey products such as the RICS condition report and the RICS homebuyer reports.
Both report formats (guidance note and practice note versions) are appropriate for virtually all properties, including but not limited to listed buildings, thatched cottages, timber frame homes and so on,.
The building survey is the most detailed survey available  from most firms of Chartered Surveyors. Thorough though it is, it may still lead to recommendations for further investigation from other specialists; see below. However, A competent surveyor will always try to investigate causes of damp and building defects before recommending for further investigation. The building survey report is much longer than the condition report but may not be much longer than the homebuyer report as its content depends on the condition observed in each individual case. The practice note version building survey looks in more detail at the property to report on the visual condition and maintenance needs of nine external elements of construction, with scope for sub-division into individual features, with the nine internal elements of construction and the seven services supplied to the building examined in a similar manner. Also the three key components of the grounds in which the property is sited can be subdivided as necessary.
The practice note version of the report also rates conditions from 1 - good, 2, - needing attention in the near future, 3 - needing attention now using a traffic light system to draw attention to things that matter. In this format, if there is a defect, not only will it be identified but its causes analyzed and methods of repair and elimination of the cause discussed in some detail. The report also includes commentary to advise your solicitor on issues that need addressing in the conveyance, and any risks that affect the building, grounds and people of a more general nature. There is also discussion on the means of escape in case of fire, which in older houses in particular can be compromised by poor design and alterations. There is no market valuation or an assessment of rebuilding costs for insurance purposes in the document. These can be added, along with cost estimates for the repairs by a separate agreement as discussed in the helpful RICS explanatory notes to clients.
Collectively, a key feature of RICS building surveys are that they provide an opportunity for clients and surveyors to strike up a detailed dialogue about the property they are intending to purchase. Purchasers find a building survey useful in allowing for further negotiations on price or for providing a clients briefing document for extensions or repairs. The building survey is a very interactive process.
Chartered surveyors can also provide an energy performance certificate.
Chartered Surveyors are not necessarily specialists in other fields, and may recommend further investigations by an electrician, a gas engineer, a structural engineer or expert of another kind, depending on what they find during their inspection. They may also recommend work by the buyer's solicitor to confirm matters which might affect their valuation, such as (with leasehold properties), the unexpired term of the lease, who is responsible for the boundaries, and so forth.
The Chartered Surveyor's inspection is typically non-intrusive. They do not have the authority to lift floorboards, drill holes, or perform excavations at a property which the prospective buyer does not, at this stage, own, which means that certain defects or problems may not be apparent from their inspection.
Their fees are a component of the Cost of moving house in the United Kingdom.
While the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) has always required appraisers to identify the scope of work needed to produce credible results, it became clear in recent years[when?] that appraisers did not fully understand the process for developing this adequately. In formulating the scope of work for a credible appraisal, the concept of a limited versus complete appraisal and the use of the Departure Rule caused confusion to clients, appraisers, and appraisal reviewers. To deal with this, USPAP was updated in 2006 with what came to be known as the Scope of Work Project. Following this, USPAP eliminated both the Departure Rule and the concept of a limited appraisal, and a new Scope of Work rule was created. In this, appraisers were to identify six key parts of the appraisal problem at the beginning of each assignment:
Based on these factors, the appraiser must identify the scope of work needed, including the methodologies to be used, the extent of the investigation, and the applicable approaches to value. Currently, minimum standards for scope of work are:
The scope of work is the first step in any appraisal process. Without a strictly defined scope of work, an appraisal's conclusions may not be viable. By defining the scope of work, an appraiser can properly develop a value for a given property for the intended user, and for the intended use of the appraisal. The whole idea of "scope of work" is to provide clear expectations and guidelines for all parties as to what the appraisal report does, and does not, cover; and how much work has gone into it.
The type of real estate "interest" that is being valued, must also be known and stated in the report. Usually, for most sales, or mortgage financings, the fee simple interest is being valued. The fee simple interest is the most complete bundle of rights available. However, in many situations, and in many societies which do not follow English Common Law or the Napoleonic Code, some other interest may be more common. While there are many different possible interests in real estate, the three most common are:
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.
Automated valuation models (AVMs) are growing in acceptance. These rely on statistical models such as multiple regression analysis, machine learning algorithms or geographic information systems (GIS). While AVMs can be quite accurate, particularly when used in a very homogeneous area, there is also evidence that AVMs are not accurate in other instances such as when they are used in rural areas, or when the appraised property does not conform well to the neighborhood.
Computer-assisted mass appraisal, "CAMA" for short, is a generic term for any software package used by government agencies to help establish real estate appraisals for property tax calculations. A CAMA is a system of appraising property, usually only certain types of real property, that incorporates computer-supported statistical analyses such as multiple regression analysis and adaptive estimation procedure to assist the appraiser in estimating value.
Geographic-assisted mass appraisal, "GAMA" for short, is a generic term for any GIS-centric software package used by government agencies to help establish real estate appraisals for property tax calculations.
Spatial-CAMA, or "SCAMA", is a general term for mass appraisal where spatial data is used with spatial dependence or spatial heterogeneity models. Spatial Lag Model (SLM) and Spatial Autoregressive Moving Average (SARMA) fall under spatial dependence while Geographically Weighted Regression Models (GWR) falls under spatial heterogeneity.
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