The role of a real estate appraiser is to provide honest, impartial and objective opinions regarding the market value of the property in the form of an appraisal. This service plays a huge role in assisting those who own, manage, sell, invest, and/or lend money on the security of real estate. Appraisers will gather facts, stats, and any other information regarding said property. From there they will put their analytical skills to test in analyzing this data, exercising sound judgement, and communicating this effectively in their appraisal report.
Lenders want to make sure that homeowners are not overborrowing for a property because the home serves as collateral for the mortgage. If the borrower should default on the mortgage and go into foreclosure, the lender will recoup the money it lent by selling the home. The appraisal helps the bank protect itself against lending more than it might be able to recover in this worst-case scenario.
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.
Thanks to Jason Taylor for providing an overview of the services provided by the Orange County Emergency Operations Center in the event of disaster in our area to representatives from our Commercial Real Estate team. As many as 80 representatives from government and community organizations can staff this room to work together to meet the needs of the county and its residents. In the aftermath of an incident, appraisers from our office go into the field and assess damage to residential and commercial buildings which is reported to the federal government.  
Appraisals can be assigned to nearly any item, including real estate. Appraisals are conducted by individuals called appraisers. Appraisers are educated in a variety of market valuation methods and are recognized by a regulatory authority as being capable of issuing an accurate valuation. For instance, an appraisal on an antique will take into account such variables as age, condition, origin, and availability of authenticating documentation.
The cost approach was once called the summation approach. The theory is that the value of a property can be estimated by summing the land value and the depreciated value of any improvements. The value of the improvements is often referred to by the abbreviation RCNLD (for "reproduction/replacement cost new less depreciation"). Reproduction refers to reproducing an exact replica; replacement cost refers to the cost of building a house or other improvement which has the same utility, but using modern design, workmanship and materials. In practice, appraisers almost always use replacement cost and then deduct a factor for any functional dis-utility associated with the age of the subject property. An exception to the general rule of using the replacement cost is for some insurance value appraisals. In those cases, reproduction of the exact asset after a destructive event like a fire is the goal.
The appraiser has to think about the way that most buyers usually buy a given type of property. What appraisal method do most buyers use for the type of property being valued? This generally guides the appraiser's thinking on the best valuation method, in conjunction with the available data. For instance, appraisals of properties that are typically purchased by investors (e.g., skyscrapers, office buildings) may give greater weight to the Income Approach. Buyers interested in purchasing single family residential property would rather compare price, in this case, the Sales Comparison Approach (market analysis approach) would be more applicable. The third and final approach to value is the Cost Approach to value. The Cost Approach to value is most useful in determining insurable value, and cost to construct a new structure or building.
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.