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Property Evaluation Process

Estimating the value of real property is necessary for a variety of endeavors, including real estate financing, listing real estate for sale, investment analysis, property insurance and the taxation of real estate. For most people, determining the asking or purchase price of a property is the most useful application of real estate valuation. 

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. Reports from a Certified Appraiser 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.  When determining the value of a property for sale, it is more common to consult with a Realtor and use their evaluation report, commonly known as a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).  Realtors have greater local knowledge vs. Appraisers and unlike Appraisers, they more then likely have  been in the comparable properties being used in the reports.

Types of Value

There are several types and definitions of value sought by Realtors and Appraisers. Some of the most common are:

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.

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