Three approaches to value
There are three ways to determine the value of anything, and each plays a part in property appraisal.
The most widely-used and accepted in residential practice is the sales comparison approach. This approach bases its opinion of value on what similar properties in the vicinity have sold for recently, with appropriate adjustments for time, acreage, living area,
amenities and so on. It is these adjustments where the expertise of the professional appraiser becomes necessary -- no computer can tell you how much or little to mark up for a fireplace without knowing the neighborhood or even talking to Realtors and recent
buyers in the area about how important that amenity is in that particular location.
Another approach is the cost approach. How much would a property cost to replace, that is, rebuild, minus "accrued depreciation," that is, depreciation that has occurred since the property actually was built? The cost approach
includes concepts like "economic life" and "effective age" that are mostly of use in determining the value of special use properties, special purpose properties or properties where subsequent structural improvements greatly impact value.
The third approach to value is called the income approach. Some properties generate income for their owners -- the most obvious examples being rental properties such as apartment buildings, non owner-occupied houses and duplexes
and the like. The rental income an owner might reasonably expect from a property is part of its value. For a purely owner-occupied residential property, this may not be applicable, but it can be important if the property is to be rented out or used otherwise
to generate income, such as a storage facility, cell tower rental and office building.
How to Prepare for an Appraisal
For homeowners, a real estate appraisal is the linchpin to buying or selling their home. It allows the property transactions to occur among the buyer, seller, real estate agent and mortgage lender.
Before an Appraiser arrives, there are a few things you should know. By law, an appraiser must be state licensed to perform appraisals prepared for federally related transactions. Also by law, you are entitled to receive a copy of the completed appraisal
report from your lender.
To facilitate the appraisal process, it's beneficial to have these documents ready for the appraiser:
Once your appraiser has arrived, you do not need to accompany him or her along on the entire site inspection, but you should be available to answer questions about your property and be willing to point out any home improvements.
Here are some other suggestions:
USPAP, which you might hear pronounced like "YOOS-pap," is the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. USPAP is published and maintained by the Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) of the Appraisal Foundation, a non-governmental entity charged by
Congress with promulgating appraisal standards.
USPAP is revised periodically, usually every year. It begins with a list of Definitions, and a Preamble defining the mission. It then declares a set of general Rules governing all disciplines of appraisal practice: The Ethics Rule, the Competency Rule, the
Scope of Work Rule, the Jurisdictional Exception Rule, and the Supplemental Standards Rule. It then sets forth 10 appraisal Standards, each containing a number of Standards Rules. Each Standard covers in detail the different tasks an appraiser might perform
in the course of developing and reporting an appraisal ("Real Property Appraisal Development"; "Real Property Appraisal Reporting"; "Business Appraisal, Development"; etc.). It includes a number of Statements on those 10 appraisal Standards, some retired,
which are used to clarify or supplement the Standards. It also includes Advisory Opinions dealing with the application of the USPAP in various scenarios, such as "When does USPAP apply in valuation services?" and "Clarification of the client in a federally
related transaction," which describe real-life problems and how they would be governed under the Rules and Standards of USPAP.
Every appraiser is charged with knowing and following USPAP, usually by operation of state law, and must complete Continuing Education periodically to relearn the basics and become familiar with new Advisory Opinions and annual changes to USPAP. USPAP may
be considered the Bible of appraisal practice .