Mathematically the distinction between land and improvements in the income approach will have no impact on the overall value when the remaining economic life is more than thirty years. For this reason, it has become quite common to use the Vereinfachtes Ertragswertverfahren (simplified income approach), omitting the land value and the Liegenschaftszins. However, the separate treatment of land and buildings leads to more precise results for older buildings, especially for commercial buildings, which typically have a shorter economic life than residential buildings.
Besides the mandatory educational grade, which can vary from Finance to Construction Technology, most, but not all, countries require appraisers to have the license for the practice. Usually, the real estate appraiser has the opportunity to reach 3 levels of certification: Appraisal Trainee, Licensed Appraiser and Certified Appraiser. The second and third levels of license require no less than 2000 experience hours in 12 months and 2500 experience hours in no less than 24 months respectively. Appraisers are often known as "property valuers" or "land valuers"; in British English they are "valuation surveyors". If the appraiser's opinion is based on market value, then it must also be based on the highest and best use of the real property. In the United States, mortgage valuations of improved residential properties are generally reported on a standardized form like the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report. Appraisals of more commercial properties (e.g., income-producing, raw land) are often reported in narrative format and completed by a Certified General Appraiser.
Because the appraisal primarily protects the lender's interests, the lender will usually order the appraisal. According to the Appraisal Institute, an association of professional real estate appraisers, a qualified appraiser should be licensed or certified (as required in all 50 states) and be familiar with the local area. Federal regulations state that the appraiser must be impartial and have no direct or indirect interest in the transaction. Fannie Mae requires appraisers to certify that they have experience appraising similar properties in the same geographic area.
Data is collected on recent sales of properties similar to the subject being valued, called "comparables". Only SOLD properties may be used in an appraisal and determination of a property's value, as they represent amounts actually paid or agreed upon for properties. Sources of comparable data include real estate publications, public records, buyers, sellers, real estate brokers and/or agents, appraisers, and so on. Important details of each comparable sale are described in the appraisal report. Since comparable sales are not identical to the subject property, adjustments may be made for date of sale, location, style, amenities, square footage, site size, etc. The main idea is to simulate the price that would have been paid if each comparable sale were identical to the subject property. If the comparable is superior to the subject in a factor or aspect, then a downward adjustment is needed for that factor.[clarification needed] Likewise, if the comparable is inferior to the subject in an aspect, then an upward adjustment for that aspect is needed.[clarification needed] The adjustment is somewhat subjective and relies on the appraiser's training and experience. From the analysis of the group of adjusted sales prices of the comparable sales, the appraiser selects an indicator of value that is representative of the subject property. It is possible for various appraisers to choose a different indicator of value which ultimately will provide different property value.
Land and improvements are treated separately. German GAVP assumes that the land can be used indefinitely, but the buildings have a limited lifespan; This coincides with the balancing of the assets. The value of the land is determined by the sales comparison approach in both the income and cost approaches, using the data accumulated by the Gutachterausschuss which is then added to the building value.
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