A physical appraisal is necessary to evaluate a property. Depending on the size of the property, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours or more. After this step is complete, the appraiser will need to compare the results against recent area sales of similar properties to draw some conclusions regarding value. A report is provided once the appraisal is completed, and this is typically sent to the client within a week of the property inspection.
The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) demanded all the states to develop systems for licensing and certifying real estate appraisers. To accomplish this, the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) was formed within the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), with representatives from the various Federal mortgage regulatory agencies. Thus, currently all the real estate appraisers must be state-licensed and certified. But prior to the 1990s, there were no commonly accepted standards either for appraisal quality or for appraiser licensure. In the 1980s, an ad-hoc committee representing various appraisal professional organizations in the United States and Canada met to codify the best practices into what became known as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). The U.S. Savings and Loan Crisis resulted in increased federal regulation via the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, which required federal lending regulators to adopt appraisal standards. A nonprofit organization, The Appraisal Foundation (TAF), was formed by the same organizations that had developed USPAP, and the copyright for USPAP was signed over to TAF. Federal oversight of TAF is provided by the Appraisal Subcommittee, made up of representatives of various federal lending regulators. TAF carries out its work through two boards: the Appraisal Standards Board promulgates and updates USPAP; the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) promulgates minimum recommended standards for appraiser certification and licensure. During the 1990s, all of the states adopted USPAP as the governing standards within their states and developed licensure standards which met or exceeded the recommendations of TAF. Also, the various state and federal courts have adopted USPAP for real estate litigation and all of the federally lending regulators adopt USPAP for mortgage finance appraisal.
As mentioned before, an appraiser can generally choose from three approaches to determine value. One or two of these approaches will usually be most applicable, with the other approach or approaches usually being less useful. The appraiser has to think about the "scope of work", the type of value, the property itself, and the quality and quantity of data available for each approach. No overarching statement can be made that one approach or another is always better than one of the other approaches.