Real estate appraisal, property valuation or land valuation is the process of developing an opinion of value, for real property (usually market value). Real estate transactions often require appraisals because they occur infrequently and every property is unique (especially their condition, a key factor in valuation), unlike corporate stocks, which are traded daily and are identical (thus a centralized Walrasian auction like a stock exchange is unrealistic). The location also plays a key role in valuation. However, since property cannot change location, it is often the upgrades or improvements to the home that can change its value. Appraisal reports form the basis for mortgage loans, settling estates and divorces, taxation, and so on. Sometimes an appraisal report is used to establish a sale price for a property.
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.
Although appraisers and assessors of real estate work in offices, they may spend a large part of their time conducting site visits to assess properties. Time spent away from the office depends on the specialty. For example, residential appraisers tend to spend less time on office work than commercial appraisers, who might spend up to several weeks analyzing information and writing reports on one property. Appraisers who work for banks and mortgage companies generally spend most of their time inside the office, making site visits only when necessary.
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.