The appraisal process is an orderly and concise method of reaching an estimate of value. The process has six major steps which include: definition of the problem, preliminary survey and appraisal plan, data collection and analysis, application of the three approaches to value, reconciliation of value indications, final estimate of defined value. This process assists the appraiser in reaching a sound conclusion. The major phase of this process involves the application of the three approaches to value which include the Market Data Approach, the Cost Approach and Income Approach. The three approaches are reconciled and the value via most applicable approach, in the opinion of the appraiser, is selected as the final estimate of value. In most residential appraisals, particularly those of single or two family dwellings, the direct sales comparison or market best reflects the actions of buyers and sellers and is the most convincing and defendable approach to value.
The market or direct sales comparison approach to value
The market or direct sales comparison approach to an estimate of value is a process of comparing market data, that is, prices paid for similar properties, prices asked by owners, and offers made by prospective purchasers or tenants willing to buy or lease. Typically a comparison grid is used and adjustments are made to each of the comparable sales used for major differences between the comparable and the subject property for such items as location, gross living or building area, lot size, condition/effective age, market conditions, degree of remodeling, construction quality and significant amenities, ie: fireplace, jacuzzi, in ground pool, garage, deck, patio, porch and central air conditioning etc. In the market approach, the appraiser attempts to both gauge and reflect the anticipated reaction by a typical purchaser to the subject property.
A comparable sale is a property, that is similar to the subject property in most respects, is located in a similar (nearby) location, and has sold recently at arms length. The selection of comparable sales is in most residential appraisals, the single most important determining factor in establishing value. It is the appraisers responsibility to adequately research the local real estate market and determine which comparable sales best represent the value characteristics of the subject property.
Arms length transaction
An arms length transaction is one in which both seller and purchaser act independently of each other and have no connection or relationship to each other.
Market value or fair market value is the most probable price that a property should bring (will sell for) in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby: (1) buyer and seller are typically motivated; (2) both parties are well informed or well advised; (3) a reasonable time is allowed for exposure to the open market; (4) payment is made in terms of cash in U.S. dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and (5) the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale.
The Cost Approach
The cost approach combines an estimate of land value with an estimate of depreciated reproduction or replacement cost of the improvements. The principle of substitution is the basis of the cost approach, in that no rational person will pay more for a property than the amount for which he can obtain, by purchase of a site and construction of a building, with undue delay, a property of equal desirability and utility.
The Income Approach
The income approach is based on an estimate of net income from the operation of an income producing property and the selection of the property capitalization rate from market indications of similar properties. The principle of anticipation is the basis of the income approach and affirms that value is created by the expectation of benefits to be derived from possession, operation and/or capital gain at resale.
Highest & best use
Typically, highest & best use means the use or utilization that provides the most profitable return on investment. It is that use, selected from reasonably probable and legal alternative uses, which are found to be physically possible, appropriately supported and financially feasible to result in the highest possible land value.
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