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Chart showing different property valuation methods including sales comparison, cost and income approach

Choosing The Right Property Valuation Method

There are a variety of different methods used to determine the value of a property. Selecting the right approach depends on the purpose of the valuation and the type of property being appraised. This article outlines key considerations when choosing a property valuation method.

Sales Comparison Approach

The sales comparison approach is commonly used for valuing residential real estate. This method involves comparing the subject property to recent sales of similar homes in the area. Key factors considered include location, size, age, condition, and amenities. Adjustments are made for any differences between the comparable sales and the subject property to arrive at an estimate of value.

The sales comparison approach provides a good indication of market value when there are sufficient recent sales of similar properties. However, it may be less reliable for unique properties or in slow real estate markets with fewer property transactions.

Cost Approach

With the cost approach, the value is based on the cost to replace the property. The land value is estimated separately, then the replacement cost of the buildings and other improvements is added. Finally, depreciation is deducted to account for the age and condition of the structures.

This method can be useful for special use properties like schools or churches which don’t frequently exchange on the open market. It may also supplement other approaches when valuing new construction. However, estimating depreciation can be subjective and land values may be difficult to determine without comparable sales.

Income Capitalization Approach

For income-producing properties like apartments, office buildings, and retail centres, the income capitalization approach helps determine market value based on the property’s earnings potential.

The net operating income is capitalised to estimate what an investor would pay to receive the future income stream from the property. This method requires analysing the property’s financial statements, local market conditions, and capitalization rates derived from comparable sales.

The income approach is best suited for real estate purchased as an investment, but it relies on assumptions about future income, expenses, and investor return requirements.

Choosing the most applicable valuation method requires understanding the advantages and limitations of each approach based on the specific property and market conditions. Relying on a professional appraiser can help ensure an accurate opinion of value to support financial, tax, legal and investment decisions.