Real Estate Valuation 101

Real Estate Valuation 101

Assessing the value of real property is essential to an assortment of endeavors including, mortgage financing, listing and selling real estate, investment analysis, insurance, and also the taxation regarding real estate property. For most individuals, deciding the asking or purchasing price of a property is the most valuable application of real estate valuation. This short article will introduce to fundamental ideas and techniques for real estate valuation, especially as it relates to real estate sales.

Fundamental Valuation Concepts


A main consideration throughout appraising is to figure out the property’s value: the current worth of future benefits emerging from the ownership of real property. In contrast to consumer goods that are immediately utilized, the benefits of real property are generally acknowledged over a long stretch of time. Consequently, an estimate of a property’s value should consider social and economic patterns, environmental conditions and/or administrative regulations that may impact the four elements of value:

  • Demand – the longing or need for ownership upheld by the financial means to gratify desire;
  • Scarcity- the limited supply of competitive properties and
  • Utility- the ability to fulfill future owners’ wants and needs;
  • Transferability- simplicity with which ownership rights are conveyed.

Value vs. Cost and Price

Value is not so necessarily equivalent to cost or price. Cost alludes to real expenditures; for instance, labor and materials. Price is the sum that somebody pays for something. While cost and price can influence value, they don’t set the value. The particular selling price of a property could be $200,000, yet the worth could be considerably greater or perhaps cheaper. For example, if a new buyer discovers a genuine defect in the house, such as termites in the structure, the value of the home could be lower than the price.

Market Value

An appraisal is an estimation or an opinion regarding the value of a specific property as of a particular date. An appraisal is utilized by mortgage lenders, businesses, government offices, individuals, and investors when making crucial decisions relating to real estate property dealings. The objective of an appraisal is to calculate a property’s market value: The most plausible price that the property will generate in a competitive and open market. Market price, the price the property actually sells, may not always denote the market value. For instance, if a seller is under pressure because of the risk of foreclosure, or if the property was sold in a private transaction without being presented to the open market, the property may sell lower than its market value.

Appraisal Methods

An appraisal relies on upon the systematic accumulation of related information. Particular information, covering details in regards to the specific property, and general data, relating to the country, district, city, neighborhood wherein the property is situated, are gathered and analyzed to arrive at a value. Three simple approaches are utilized during this process to determine the value of a property.

Method 1 –Sales Comparison Approach

This approach is used most often when finding the value of single-family homes and land. Also known as the Market Data Approach, it is an approximate value derived by comparing the subject property with recently sold properties with similar characteristics. The similar properties are also known as comparables also known as “comps”. For a comparable to provide a valid comparison, each must:

  • be as much like the subject property as possible;
  • have recently been sold or at least within the calendar year in an open and competitive market and
  • have been sold under regular market conditions.



Comparables ought to be alike as reasonably possible to the subject property. It is also recommended that three or four should be used within the appraisal process. The most paramount factors to consider when selecting comparables are the location and the size of the comparables and subject properties. The area the property is located is extremely important because it can have a huge impact on a property’s market value.


Since no two properties are equivalent, adjustments to the comparables sales prices will be made to account for unlike characteristics and other factors that would affect value, including:

  • Condition and age of the building;
  • Sale date, if economic changes happen between the sale date of a comparable and the date of the appraisal;
  • Location, since the comparable properties may differ in price from neighborhood to neighborhood;
  • Physical characteristics, including type of construction,  number and type of rooms, square feet of living space, parcel size, landscaping, finishing, and whether a property has hardwood floors, a carport, kitchen updates, a chimney, a pool, central air, and so on and
  • Terms and conditions of sale, for example, if a property was sold between relatives (at a reduced cost) or if an owner was under duress


The valuation estimate of the subject property will fall inside the range formed by the adjusted sales prices of the comparables. Since a portion of the changes made to the sales prices of the comparables will be more subjective than others, weighted consideration is regularly given to those comparables that had the slightest amount of adjustment.

Method 2 Cost Approach

The approach is often used by insurance companies to determine replacement value in the case of destruction by fire or other forces of nature. It also can be utilized to gauge the estimation of properties that have been enhanced by one or more buildings. This strategy includes separate appraisals of value for the building(s) and the land, taking into consideration depreciation. The appraisals are added together to obtain the value for the entire improved property. This approach makes the assumption that a sensible buyer would not pay more for an existing improved property than it would cost to purchase a comparable lot and develop a building that is practically identical in terms of usefulness and desirability. The cost approach is helpful when the property being evaluated is a type of property that is not often sold and is not an income-producing property. Some examples would include government buildings, hospitals, churches and schools.

Building Costs

Building expenses can be evaluated in a few ways, including the square foot method where the cost per square foot of a recently constructed  comparable is multiplied by the number of square feet in the subject building; the unit-in-place strategy where costs are assessed based on the construction cost per unit of measure of the individual building parts, including work and materials and the quantity-survey technique which assesses the amount of raw materials that will be required to replace the subject building alongside the current cost of the materials and related installation costs.


For appraisal purposes, depreciation refers to any condition that adversely affects the value of an improvement to real property, and takes into consideration:

  • Physical deterioration, including treatable deterioration, for example, roof replacement or new paint and untreatable deterioration such as structural issues;
  • Functional obsolescence, owners no longer consider home desirable due to its physical characteristics or design features for example a galley kitchen, old fixtures or homes with four rooms and only one bath and
  • Economic obsolescence is where the property is no longer desired due to its physical location due to being near a train track, power plant or an airport.


The cost approach for Real Estate valuation includes five essential steps


  • Estimate the value of the property as though it were empty and accessible to be put to its best and highest use, utilizing the sales comparison approach since land can’t be depreciated.
  • Estimate the current cost of developing the building(s) and site improvements
  • Estimate the amount of devaluation of the improvements resulting from deterioration, economical or functional obsolescence.
  • Deduct the depreciation from the estimated development costs.
  • Add the estimated value of the lot to the depreciated expense of the building(s) and site improvements to determine the total property value.


Method 3 – Income Capitalization Approach

The income capitalization approach is another method of real estate valuation, and is focused around the relationship between the rate of return an investor requires and the net income that a property produces. It is utilized to gauge the estimation of value of income-producing properties, for example, office buildings, apartment complexes and strip malls. Appraisals utilizing the income approach can be genuinely clear when the subject property can be relied upon to have future income, and when its costs are predictable and consistent.

Direct Capitalization

Appraisers will perform these steps when utilizing the direct capitalization approach:

  • Estimate the annual gross revenues;
  • Take into consideration vacancy and rent collection losses to configure the effective gross income
  • Deduct yearly operating expenses to calculate the yearly net operating income;
  • Estimate the value that an investor would be willing to pay for the income produced by the specific type and class of property. This is assessed by estimating the rate of return, or capitalization rate and
  • Apply the capitalization rate to the property’s yearly net operating income to structure an appraisal of the property’s value.




Gross Income Multipliers

The gross wage multiplier (GIM) technique can be utilized to evaluate different properties that are typically not acquired as income properties but  that could be leased, for example, one-and-two-family homes. The GRM approach relates the sales price of a property to its expected rental income. The gross annual income would be used for industrial and commercial properties whereas residential properties use the gross monthly income. The GIM approach can be calculated as follows:

Sales Price/Rental Income = Gross Income Multiplier

Rental information and recent sales from no less than three comparable properties, like in case you rent a condo near Sea Pines, can be utilized to establish an accurate gross income multiplier. The gross income multiplier can then be added to the estimated fair market rental of the subject property to reach its market value, which can be computed as follows:

Rental Income X GIM = Estimated Market Value


Precise real estate valuation is essential to investors, mortgage lenders, financial specialists, insurers and purchasers and sellers of real property. While appraisals are usually performed by licensed skilled experts, anyone included in a real transaction can benefit from understanding the different methods of real estate valuation.

The information contained in this article was provided by Jean Floger and Investopidia.

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