An appraisal is an unbiased professional opinion of a home's value. Appraisals are almost always used in purchase and sale transactions and commonly used in refinance transactions. In a purchase and sale transaction, an appraisal is used to determine whether the home's contract price is appropriate given the home's condition, location, and features. In a refinance, it assures the lender that it isn't handing the borrower more money than the home is worth.
In most instances, an appraiser will spend their time determining the value of one piece of property at a time. Building up their expertise in making their assessments often leads appraisers to specialize in a particular area of real estate. For example, a commercial appraiser could focus on the market for office buildings, hotels, retail locations, and other properties that include an income generating quality.
When evaluating a property's value, appraisers note the characteristics of the property and surrounding area, such as a view or noisy highway nearby. They also consider the overall condition of a building, including its foundation and roof or any renovations that may have been done. Appraisers photograph the outside of the building and some of the interior features to document its condition. After visiting the property, the appraiser analyzes the property relative to comparable home sales, including lease records, location, view, previous appraisals, and income potential. During the entire process, appraisers record their research, observations, and methods used in providing an estimate of the property’s value.
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.
Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty and his staff are dedicated to producing fair and equitable Property Value Assessments. We strive to provide exceptional service to the citizens of Pinellas County. The information on this site has been prepared as a public service, and to give you an overview of some of the activities in the Property Appraiser's Office.