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".
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.
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.
Although appraisers and assessors of real estate work in offices, they may spend a large part of their time conducting site visits to assess properties. Time spent away from the office depends on the specialty. For example, residential appraisers tend to spend less time on office work than commercial appraisers, who might spend up to several weeks analyzing information and writing reports on one property. Appraisers who work for banks and mortgage companies generally spend most of their time inside the office, making site visits only when necessary.
Our experience in the personal property field is second to none. Each appraisal assignment we perform is held to the highest level of scrutiny. We pride ourselves on our honesty, integrity and commitment to service. All of our appraisals are prepared with the knowledge that we are ready and able to stand up in court, if necessary, to justify our findings.
The general condition of the building and grounds will also be taken into consideration. For example, the status of the foundation and the condition of the roof may require repairs and renovations. In addition to the building itself, the land that it stands on can also play a factor in the analysis. It is common for an appraiser to take photographs of the property, both inside and out in order to document its condition.
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We have compiled property records in a single, comprehensive property report which can provide you with lots of answers to your questions. How high are current property taxes? Is an increase in property taxes expected for the next year? How much did the current owner pay for this property? Were there any permits filed recently on the property indicating repairs and maintenance work? What is the official size (square footage) of the property? How does the home's sales history look, judging from the available property deed records? Get answers to these questions using PropertyShark, so you can confidently make your home buying decision.