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.
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.
In New Zealand, the terms "valuation" and "valuer" usually relates to one who undertakes that professional role in terms of the Valuer Act 1948 requirements or the unregulated or voluntarily self-regulated (if members of PINZ) plant and machinery, marine or art valuers. Whereas, the term "appraisal" is usually related to an estimate by a real estate sales person or licensed agent under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008. The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand includes many valuer members, but the governing legislation for sales and agency (disposal of interests of land on behalf of others) does not extend to include provision for that role by valuers regardless of membership of NZIV, RICS or PINZ.
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The scope of work is the first step in any appraisal process. Without a strictly defined scope of work, an appraisal's conclusions may not be viable. By defining the scope of work, an appraiser can properly develop a value for a given property for the intended user, and for the intended use of the appraisal. The whole idea of "scope of work" is to provide clear expectations and guidelines for all parties as to what the appraisal report does, and does not, cover; and how much work has gone into it.
In Germany, real estate appraisal is known as real estate valuation (Immobilienbewertung). Real estate appraisers (Immobilienbewerter or Gutachter) can qualify to become a Öffentlich bestellter und vereidigter Sachverständiger (officially appointed and sworn expert). However, this formerly very important title has lost a lot of its importance over the past years, but still is of some value in court procedures. The title is not generally required for appraisals.
These appraisers also perform valuations on commercial property ranging from single to multiple tenant office buildings, shopping centers, retail, industrial, malls, hospitals, health care facilities, warehouses, and hotels to multi-family apartment buildings, co-ops, senior housing, condominium developments, and even vacant land, agricultural, and golf courses.  Regardless of the property type or local zoning, they'll determine the highest and best use of the project and assess the value using the actual or projected cash flow from the property's rent roll and financial statements, using both cap rates for capitalizing year one net operating income (NOI) and discounted cash flow (DCF) of multiple future income streams.  If you're a commercial lender, investor, builder, contractor, architect, or agent, you'll want to use these appraisers to conduct a feasibility analysis of any income producing real estate project you may be considering.  They can also help consult on construction costs and projected absorption rates.  They generally produce a commercial narrative appraisal when engaged for any commercial assignment.