Sales Comparison, Adjustments, and Paired Sales

This video looks at the sales comparison approach that appraisers use as the primary method to value real estate.

A few appraisal terms that are used in the video are:

Sales Comparison Approach
A comparative approach to value that considers the sales of similar or substitute properties and related market data and establishes a value estimate by processes involving comparison. In general, a property being valued (a subject property) is compared with sales of similar properties that have been transacted in the open market. Listings and offerings may also be considered. A general way of estimating a value indication for personal property or an ownership interest in personal property, using one or more methods that compare the subject to similar properties or to ownership interests in similar properties. This approach to the valuation of personal property is dependent upon the Valuer’s market knowledge and experience as well as recorded data on comparable items.

Mathematical changes made to basic data to facilitate comparison or understanding. When dollar adjustments are used, individual differences between comparables and the subject property are expressed in terms of plus or minus dollar amounts; with percentage adjustments, individual differences are reflected in plus or minus percentage differentials.

Paired Data Analysis
A quantitative technique used to identify and measure adjustments to the sale prices or rents of comparable properties; to apply this technique, sales or rental data on nearly identical properties is analyzed to isolate and estimate a single characteristic’s effect on value or rent. Often referred to as paired sales analysis.

Adjustment Grid
A table used to display comparable data and facilitate adjustment of differences in elements of comparison.

A shortened term for similar property sales, rentals, or operating expenses used for comparison in the valuation process. In best usage, the thing being compared should be specified, e.g., comparable sales, comparable properties, comparable rents.

All Definitions Sourced From: Appraisal Institute, The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal, 5th ed. (Chicago: Appraisal Institute, 2010).

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments box below.

Aloha, Chris

Is that thing a “fixer upper” or a “tear down”?

Today a friend asked me how real estate appraisers value properties that are in “below average” condition.  He wanted to know if we valued them in their “as is” condition, and whether or not repair costs were factored in.

In essence, how do you know if a property is a “fixer upper” or a “tear down”?

In a nutshell:

  1. If a property is in poor condition, an appraiser considers whether or not the value of the real estate, in its “as is” condition, exceeds the value of the underlying land.
  2. An appraiser determines this by analyzing the cost to repair the building to typical/average condition, and comparing the net value against the value of the underlying land, less demolition costs.

In detail:

It’s a relatively simple process, the appraisal buzzwords associated with this valuation method are “highest and best use” and “cost to cure”.

To demonstrate the analysis, I went on the Honolulu MLS and found a commercial property built in 1959, the same year Hawaii became a State.

Here, in all of its glory, is the poor condition (according to MLS)  office / retail property known as “1339 North School Street”:

1339 North School Street

1339 North School Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

A bunch of appraiser math/mumbo-jumbo below, skip to the chart at the end to see the answer.

For our purposes, the asking price is irrelevant, especially because the listing includes additional land parcels.  The figures used below are part of a simplistic appraisal demonstration only.

Let’s assume an appraiser determines that vacant land in the subject neighborhood is worth $100 per square foot.  Similarly, let’s assume average/typical commercial buildings are selling for $300 per square foot of building area.  The values would compare as shown below.

Item Area in Square Feet Value Per Square Foot Total Value
Vacant Land 20,000 $100 $2,000,000
Less: Demolition Costs     -$100,000
Equals: Property Value   $1,900,000
Average Condition Building 7,500 $300 $2,250,000
    Difference $350,000

Since the value of an average condition building “as improved” is worth more than the property “assuming demolition”, we proceed to the next step: determining the value of the building in poor condition (its “as is” condition).

Item Building Area
in Square Feet
Building Value
Per Square Foot
Total Value
Average Condition Building 7,500 $300 $2,250,000
Less: Cost to repair to average condition   -$500,000
Equals: Poor Condition Property Value   $1,750,000

Let’s assume a reputable contractor estimated the construction/repair cost necessary to renovate the subject building to “average” condition to be $500,000.  This amount is deducted from the “if in average condition” building value to arrive at the value of the overall property in poor condition of $1.75 million.

So, where are we at?

How does land value (assuming demolition) compare to property value (assuming renovation)?

Item Total Value
Land Value Assuming Demolition $1,900,000
Poor Condition Property Value $1,750,000
Yep, it's a tear down.

Yep, it’s a tear down.

In this hypothetical scenario, the value of the underlying land, even after deducting demolition costs, exceeds the value of the poor condition property “as is”.  Therefore, the highest and best use of the property is demolition of the built-in-1959 (54 year old) improvements to make way for new development.

Questions, comments?  Please leave them in the comment box, I would be happy to clarify and/or expand.

Aloha, Chris