market value


How to Appraise in a Declining Market
An Analysis by Henry S. Harrison, MAI, SRPA, ASA of
APB Valuation Advisory #3: Residential Appraising in a Declining Market

The Appraisal Practices Board (APB) of the Appraisal Foundation has just released “APB Valuation Advisory #3 – Residential Appraising in a Declining Market” dated May 7, 2012. This 33 page document is available at the Appraisal Foundation Website: (When you land on their Homepage, single click on the left side column “Appraisal Practices Board (APB)” ; and then single click on “APB Valuation Advisory” and then on “APB Valuation Advisory #3.”)

The most frequent question I’ve received in my “Ask Henry” mailbox over the past few years is “How does an appraiser make an appraisal of a property in a declining market?” The majority of these questions come from residential appraisers and express their confusion as to how to include (or not include) consideration of distressed sales, short sales, foreclosure sales, etc. — and if such comps are to be used, how they should be adjusted. I will address these problems in more detail as I summarize and comment on the eight subjects that make up the Valuation Advisory #3.

I. How Should an Appraiser Define a Declining Market?
Since there is no universally accepted definition of a declining market, it is incumbent upon the appraiser, when they report that the subject property is in a declining market, to include in the appraisal a definition of the term “Declining Market.” Support must be presented that demonstrates that the subject market area fits the provided definition.

For example, you might say: “A declining market is one where the median house prices go down for two consecutive 3-month periods.” To use this definition, you would then have to supply the necessary data about median sale prices in the subject market, showing that they have gone down during the past two 3-month periods. Keep in mind that an appraisal is based on historic information and is not a forecast of future conditions. It is not good appraisal practice to forecast the market direction or trend for the subject market into the future.



Choosing Comps in a Declining Market

Newly published guidance from the Appraisal Institute helps appraisers know when and how to use distressed sales, such as foreclosures, as comparable sales. Such knowledge is crucial in the current market where distressed sales are common, creating complex valuation challenges.

AI’s Guide Note 11: Comparable Selection in a Declining Market notes: "transactions used in an appraisal assignment require adjustments for changes in market conditions."

The Appraisal Institute’s Guide Note 11 says: “A declining market will likely exhibit very little sales activity. When the sales comparison approach is necessary, but there are virtually no current sales in the market area to analyze as comps, the appraiser must: (1.) Expand the geographic area for comp search, then adjust for location as appropriate, and/or (2.) Use less recent sales, then adjust for market conditions as appropriate.”

It continues: “Appraisers cannot categorically discount foreclosures and short sales as potential comps in the sales comparison approach.” However, due to differences between their conditions of sale and the conditions outlined in the market value definition, these might not be usable as comps.

Further, foreclosures and short sales usually do not meet the conditions outlined in the definition of market value, the Guide Note says. A short sale or a sale of a property that occurred prior to a foreclosure might have involved atypical seller motivations (e.g., a highly motivated seller.) A sale of a bank-owned property might have involved typical motivations, so the fact that it was a foreclosed property would not render it ineligible as a comp. However, the Guide Note also points out, if the foreclosed property was sold without a typical marketing program, or if it had become stigmatized as a foreclosure, it might need to be adjusted if used as a comp. Also, some foreclosed properties are in inferior condition, so adjustments for physical condition may be needed.

this link to download the free PDF: “Guide Note 11: Comparable Selection in a Declining Market


Editorial: The Debt Bill (Budget Control Act of 2011)

It is easy to become depressed when you follow the news these days.Unemployment seems to be stuck at a rate near 10%, millions of people are about to lose their homes by foreclosure, and the American dream of owning a home has turned into a nightmare for many Americans.

This past Tuesday, August 2, 2011, ends one of the most outrageous episodes of legislative nonsense I can remember. Our government shot itself in the foot -- inflicting an injury upon our economy and our people that will take years to heal. Recent polls show that the public's faith in their government has reached an all time low. This feeling crosses party lines and includes virtually every group polled. The selfish and self-serving behavior of too many of our so-called legislators is disgusting.

What in the past made America a great country was that the people believed in democracy and enjoyed the benefits of being free as a direct result of our democratic form of government. Hopefully, it will sink into the heads of voters of all persuasions that we want and need an effective government. Then we will wake up and through the power of the vote put into office people who will once again make our government function.

Having gotten that off my chest, let's examine what this Budget Control Act of 2011 did for housing and us real estate professionals. To answer this question, you need to look at the actual bill. Here is the URL:

You will see that the bill is just 74 pages and if you look carefully you will see at the top that there is a search function. Try it out by typing in the word "budget" and see what happens. The result is that it appears 35 times, and each time is shaded yellow. Now try "Housing". Guess what? The word "Housing" does not appear anywhere in the 74 pages. Try "mortgage". Same result. Try "foreclosure". Struck out again. No results for "taxes" either.

The bottom line is that the government officials -- the President, the House and the Senate -- continue to ignore the best way to jump start the economy and create millions of jobs: fix up all the foreclosed houses and sell or rent them.

I invite you (if you haven't already done so) to read my
Editorial in the June 2011 Issue of REV, entitled "Economics: How to Solve Housing Market Chaos & Help Relieve Unemployment." [Click on the highlighted word "Editorial" at the top of this paragraph to go there.]



Economics: How to Solve Housing Market Chaos
& Help Relieve Unemployment

It is easy to become depressed when you follow the news these days.Unemployment seems to be stuck at a rate near 10%, millions of people are about to lose their homes by foreclosure, and the American dream of owning a home has turned into a nightmare for many Americans.

I keep hoping that I will hear that President Obama and the Congress are taking steps to solve the problem but so far not much is happening.

Many of us lived through the market crash and accompanying collapse of the housing market in the middle 1980s. If they think like I do, these folks feel that history is repeating itself. Back then, about 1,000 Savings and Loans went out of business and the press predicted that bailout would cost taxpayers $500 billion dollars.

What actually happened was that Congress passed the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) enacted in 1989. Appraisers remember FIRREA because it required that real estate appraisers be licensed or certified. Prior to the Act, this was not the case. Each state had its own rules. FIRREA legislation was also responsible for the creation of the Appraisal Foundation and the Appraisal Subcommittee.

Far more importantly, it established the Resolution Trust Corporation which was given the responsibility to solve the housing mess. The RTC did so at far less than the predicted $500 billion dollar figure.

The glut of foreclosed houses is depressing the housing market and at the same time, there are legions of unemployed contraction workers who lost their jobs when the construction of new houses basically ground to a halt in 2008 and 2009.

Sound Off!!

Have we gone from routine over-appraisal to routine under-appraisal?

Dear Henry:
I am not a real estate professional, but a homeowner. Recently, I witnessed a spasm of over-appraisal of real estate, caused by appraiser eagerness to please the banks during the real estate bubble, followed by what the newspapers have proclaimed as a "correction," in the post-bubble-pop period.

I now have reason to doubt that any such "correction" actually has occurred. A real correction of this spasm of over-appraisal of real estate, would have required the appraiser to transit from dishonesty toward honesty. Instead, in my personal evaluation, based upon what I have personally witnessed, what has occurred is that the appraiser has transited directly from dishonesty-one-way to dishonesty-the-opposite-way. What has happened is that the appraiser, who had been overeager to suck up to the bank by over-appraisal, has become overeager to suck up to the bank by under-appraisal. That's equally dishonest, and not something to be proud of.

It has been proclaimed, in the newspapers, that in order to correct the previous tainted situation, the banks have distanced themselves from the appraisal industry. Now, supposedly, that problem has been coped with, because banks no longer have direct contact with the appraiser who is chosen.

However, in my view, the only thing that has changed is the banks have changed the sort of dishonesty they require now to under-estimate dishonesty. From my perspective, this creates a very negative attitude toward your profession.

Austin Meredith
Durham, NC

Dear Austin,
Appraiser independence is a problem that has plagued the appraisal profession for as long as I can remember.
(I became an appraiser in the 1960s).

The largest national appraisal organization gave appraisers designations in recognition of their education and experience, the MAI -- which soon became called by some "Made As Instructed".

The profession continuously lobbies for legislation that prohibits trying to influence the outcome of an appraisal to stop the problem. In my opinion, based on human nature, the problem is always going to exist. Appraisers are human beings, and their well-being depends upon satisfying their customers.

I don't think they are different from other professionals who also try to satisfy the patients, clients and bosses.


Ask Henry

Disposition Value

Hello Henry,

Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer my question.

I have a client who's requesting a market value and a disposition value on every commercial report. If you were asked to do this, what steps would you take and how would you go about coming up with your disposition value? Thanks again.

Robert Jones
Certified General Real Property Appraiser

Dear Robert,

The USPAP requires that every appraisal include a statement as to what value is being estimated and a definition of that value. When you use the URAR, the form takes care of this with a statement that the value being estimated is market value, and provides the federally-approved definition of market value. In your scope of work dialogue with the client, you will need to agree on a definition of disposition value. Such a value would consider the typical marketing period, which would likely be different from the typical marketing time used for market value. It also might include how the property would be marketed — perhaps utilizing an auction or some other atypical method. One you have the definition, you will have to find comparable sales that meet those conditions.This often severely limits the availability of comparable data. You could contact the Lum Library of the Appraisal Institute in Chicago at (312) 335-4100 for any published definitions of disposition value.


Ask Henry

Fair Market Value, Market Value, IRS Value

Dear Mr. Harrison,

I have been asked by an attorney whether there is any difference between "Fair Market Value" (a term he sees in IRS rules and regulations) and "Market Value" as used in appraisals. I have told him that the term "Fair Market Value" has been superceeded by the term "Market Value," but he is still concerned that there could be some value difference attributed to the use of one term rather than the other. Can you help me clear this up for him please? Thank you!

Dear Donald,

The definition of "Fair Market Value" is contained in the FIRREA Act and is required for all mortgages where the U.S. government is involved. It is the value most often estimated by appraisers. Keep in mind that the USPAP requires that every appraisal state the type of value being estimated and provide a definition of that value. Different IRS publications and regulations seem to include different definitions of the terms Market Value and Fair Market Value. I suspect that if you based your appraisal on one of those definitions, the value you estimated might differ from an appraisal based on one of the IRS definitions. The attorney is going to have to research which of the IRS definitions applies to the matter they are involved in, and if an appraisal is needed in the case, be sure to supply the appraiser with that definition of value.