Challenges In Appraising Warehouse Properties

Appraisal of a warehouse can appear straightforward compared to other appraisal assignments. A warehouse appraisal involves comparing a building that is primarily an open shell to similar buildings. Some appraisers tend to assume that one “box” is pretty much the same as another. However, a number of warehouse characteristics can present challenges during the valuation process.

Some appraisers end in using Cost Approach method as a generic method in appraising buildings. But there are several critical differences appraisers need to keep in mind. First, knowing the remaining economic life of a structure is a big factor in determining what method should be used. Appraising old structures using the cost approach method may generate an incorrect result. Income approach is the reasonable method in this situation. Second, the importance of solving the question of the highest and best use of the property- as vacant and as improved, gains ground when the subject property is old and located in a neighborhood where other best use is possible and more feasible.

In appraising these warehouses using Income Approach, it is essential to carefully consider the following factors in selecting comparables:

• Excess land
• Truss height
• Percent of office space
• Loading facilities
• Truck maneuvering distance
• Floor thickness/loading capacity
• Power service
• Land-to-building ratio
• Size relative to typical building size

The most important, location-related factors can differentiate warehouses located within the same community. The value of a warehouse facility is tied to the ability to move goods efficiently in and out of the warehouse. Any inefficiency reduces profitability.

In a challenging profession, an appraiser should think “out of the box” in looking methods that will result in a reliable and unbiased opinion of value.

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