Importance of Cloud Storage for Appraisers

appraisal-workfilesPaperless office is one of the major tasks for every practicing real estate professional. Technology streamlines transactions and assignments to free more time for building relationships with the clients and in providing quality report.

Appraisers have lot of documents, photos, maps and sketch plans. Storing them in the cloud has made it easier to share and organize. You can share your data easily with clients and can even jointly collaborate on documents with others online.

“If you can perform the major tasks anywhere and away from office, you’re untethered,”  Gus Agosto, the Owner-Appraiser of AA Realty Solutions,  have said.

With your documents on the cloud, you avoid bogging down devices with every photo you’ve ever taken of your assignment. The other benefit is you won’t lose any of files if your computer crashes.

What’s important for appraisers, besides a comfortable camera, drone and high-tech computers, is always being able to access your programs and data WHEREVER YOU ARE: at home, office, branch office, breakfast, lunch, travelling, on client appointments, and at the title company.

Learning to make the most of new technology can be challenging, but staying on top of tech trends for business has become an important factor in every success.

“Real estate appraisal is overdue for cloud storage. Practitioners should appreciate the benefit of cloud computing. This is the future of real estate appraisal.”

Due Diligence In Real Estate Transactions

811-Due-Diligence-When-Buying-Real-EstateReal estate transactions involve a significant amount of money and rights of individual. The due diligence process minimizes the risks and provides safeguards against determinable issues that may affect the real estate transaction.

Making the right decisions in real estate transactions can be a challenge without complete and accurate information. A traditional legal principle is “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware.” This is from the traditional rulings that courts would make that the buyer was stuck with whatever he or she purchased and would have limited recourse. Due to this likely result, buyers had to be extra cautious when making buying decisions.

Due diligence provides for a thorough investigation into a transaction. It helps the buyer learn more about the property, the documents, environment and operational fundamentals of the deal. This process helps avoid surprises after the transaction when remedies may be limited.

The actual scope of the due diligence process depends on the buyer’s needs and the transaction itself. If the buyer is a developer, he or she may have very different needs than when the buyer is purchasing the property for lease or investment. There are individuals who have a pending court case and interested in knowing the property to determine the site and use as evidence in court.

The due diligence process begins by determining the expected use of the property and use this information as a framework. Due diligence seeks to address a number of issues and identify important information for buyers. This information includes determining the property’s owners, boundary lines, the rights that come with the sale, the expected future use of the property and highest and best use as development options. The process should identify any issues related to the property title, easements, encumbrances, liens or other hurdles to complete ownership. Additionally, the due diligence process can reveal if there are any restrictions that might affect the use of the property or its development, such as environmental issues, zoning restrictions or legal compliance matters such as abiding by Agrarian Reform Law, NIPAS Act, Agriculture and fisheries Act, road right of way act, government programs and more.

The due diligence process can also reveal information as it is uncovered. For example, the technical description plotting cannot be close may pop up after the document analysis is conducted. Additionally, it is important to determine the real estate market and demographic data to predict the future demands in the area.  Site inspection will determine the actual topography, terrain, shape, boundaries, neighbourhood and existence of any occupants or informal settlers in the property.

Last but not the least, is the environmental assessment, to uncover any daunting environmental hazards or issues of the property such as gas leak, wet lands, or use of the property as manufacturing in the past.

The due diligence process is very important. Adequate time must be reserved for this process to be conducted thoroughly and carefully. Party in a transaction should be encouraged to provide specified documents and information to ease the transaction. Be aware of all interests, liabilities, expenses and possible uses for the property.

This information will allow parties in transactions to make an informed decision.

Using drone in appraisal

S-048395x2000Thinking outside the box is essential in the valuation profession. It only makes sense that drones would come to be in the hands of appraisers.

In recent appraisal assignments, appraisers’ uses drone in site inspections. Drones provide unique perspectives on properties, giving appraisers more information to use for a credible appraisal report.

“It allows us to get up higher, get a better view of the roof and rotate 360 degrees above the property to provide a view of the surrounding properties,” Appraiser Gus said. “We could not provide that footage without using a drone.”

There are many advantages in using  drone for appraisal. One is the ability to access hard-to-reach places. Areas considered previously unobservable such as roofings, gutters, easements and more, can now be seen using the correct equipment. Not only can these items be observed, but areas of interest can be identified for additional inspection.

Drones can be specifically useful in commercial properties,  large tracts of land where easements and prior improvements can be shown via photographs or video. This allows appraisers to observe and document a property in real-time on the date of inspection and will undoubtedly change the way many properties are viewed going forward.

These developments show that valuation profession is not afraid to innovate with new technology.  It elevated the practice of profession to a new and higher level.

” Drones provide appraisers more information to use for a credible appraisal report.”

 

Key points in the appraisal report

Appraisal reportIn every appraisal assignment, the appraiser should see to it that the client understand not only the final value, but the appraisal report in its entirety.

Appraisal report is the product of the whole appraisal process. It is an important document for decision maker in deciding whether or not to accept any real estate transaction.It outlines the strength and weaknesses of a property. Thus, the conclusion in the report can make or break any real estate negotiations.

Beside market value, what are the other factors that a property owner, real estate practitioner or investor should look to in an appraisal report?

Here are some of the major factors to consider as you read over the appraisal report.

Proper identification of the property.The most important in appraisal is the proper identification of the property. Definitely, wrong property is wrong appraisal. The appraiser should indicate the correct characteristics of the property like shape, size, depth, age, topography and boundaries. Documents such as the property title and tax declaration should match with the public records in the city assessor, engineering, city planning and Bureau of Lands.

Market trends. If the market has been going up, but the report says the market is going down, that could not support the final value. The report should show if what is unfolding in the market, otherwise that could lead to erroneous adjustments in the report.

Neighborhood Boundaries. The neighborhood boundaries listed in the appraisal report should show the correct similar neighborhood on which the subject property and the comparable (comps) sales are located. It can make a big difference if the wrong comps are used from inferior or superior neighborhoods.

Selection of comparables. The comparable used are the good substitution of properties a buyer might consider purchasing instead of the subject property. It should almost identical with the property appraised. Otherwise, it is a wrong comps and questionable.

Adjustments.Some reports make an adjustment by just getting the  average of the total price of comps in the market. It does not reflect the real estate market and are not reasonable.

Measurements. In measuring the improvements, appraisal report should present  a relatively similar to official records or to what a buyer know of the property. It is important to double-check, in case of error.

Improvements. The report won’t show an adjustment for every single update, but the final value should consider improvements. Keep in mind of course that not all improvements contribute to value. For example, a swimming pool in the backyard probably won’t be a huge plus in a beach area.

Qualification of the appraiser. Appraisal report mirrors the experience and qualification of the appraiser. Property owner, investors and real estate practitioners should look for appraisers that are not only licensed but possess a certain level of experience. The report should indicate the client list and types of property appraised by the appraiser. This will show if the appraiser is qualified to do the assignment.

Now that you know the important elements of an appraisal report, its time to obtain a copy from your appraiser or bank loan officer.

Remember that your property is one of your most important lifetime investments. The money spent on a quality appraisal is well spent.

Benefits of appraisal services

Appraisal-of-HomeSome property owner downplays the importance of appraisal. In determining the price of certain properties for example, some still uses the zonal value as a benchmark in knowing the worth of the property. Other sees the appraisal as a process of comparing the listing price of properties in an area. There are price-sensitive client that bargains in lowering appraiser’s fee, while there are also reliant on the opinion of certain real estate practitioners in pricing their properties to evade in paying the appraisal fee.

There are financial implications on relying to non-expert in real estate valuation. If the practitioner missed some current comparable evidence, is weak in the technical analysis, or errs in the interpretation of data, it might result in aggregate loss in the real estate transaction or losing the whole transaction itself.

In our experience, with the help of an appraisal, a property owner was able to make a sound bank loan. An investor uses the advice of an appraiser to quantify risk and project yield; a landowner has successfully inked a joint venture deal using the appraisal; an asset manager gets advice that makes him or her wise decision maker; and a lawyer is able to rely on appraisers’ expertise in litigation and court testimony.

Appraisal is not a simple process or just a mandated evil for which a client grudgingly pays as little as possible. Appraisal is a service that, if competent and timely, brings a benefit to a client that far outweighs the fee.

Appraisal report is a living document forming the very foundation for decision making. Where else is a client going to get such a detailed investigation of his or her property and its market?  It is not just a document that the banker throws into a file and the client never sees.

In today’s changing real estate market, solving the issues is the most invaluable contribution of the appraiser.

How private appraisals differ from bank appraisal?

IBPS-Participating-BanksA lot of people are asking us if we can undertake valuations that may then be used to banks for mortgage purposes. Some also uses the bank appraisal fee as an argument to demand for a much lower appraisal fee from the private appraisers.

On the first question, our response is that some lenders do not accept a valuation from a third party appraiser, they have their own in-house appraisers. But getting the services of a private appraiser is beneficial for the landowner; it can be use in negotiation with the bank for a higher loanable amount.

Why bank appraisal has lower fee than the private? It is pretty simple, the banks will profit not in the appraisal but rather in the home loan transaction.

How then private appraisals differ from those provided by banks? Banks are interested in quick turnaround, thus the valuer assigned has to conduct valuation based on bank standards. Bank also has policies that served as guidelines to their in-house appraisers that concur to the company policies on home loans.

There are few appraisal companies that are successful in getting appraisal jobs from banks. They are mostly accredited by the Central Bank. Fees are low and turnaround time from receiving instructions to having to send the appraisal report is short. Situation that newly passed appraisers cannot cope up.

However, if a client gets the services of a private appraiser, they can instruct the valuer directly for their own purposes.  Not to side with the client, but in providing unbiased report. The most important client can expect as a minimum is a quality and independent report.

US court appointed expert witness

courtAppraiser Gus appointed and subpoenaed as an expert witness in  San Joaquin Superior County Court, Stockton, California. The court is  determining the value of  properties located in the Philippines which is under dispute and for disposition.

“I am humbled for the appointment and the opportunity to appear in a US Court as an appraiser witness.” Appraiser Gus replied upon knowing the order.

In its order, the court emphasized his role in the court proceeding citing the following:  “The appraiser provided an estimate of value for real estate properties in the Philippines. He has the the first hand knowledge of the properties, title information and estimated values which are crucial in resolving the property division aspect of the case.”

Prior to his appointment, Appraiser Agosto has served different trial courts in the cities of Lapulapu, Cebu, Mandaue and Talisay as court commissioner.  Beside working in the court, he has served clientele both in private and public. Some of them includes Miraizo Group of Hongkong, General Milling Corporation, SMC Lighterage Corporation, Southwestern University, Pilipinas Water Resources, Inc. and University of the Philippines. He was the former Managing Partner of Intech Property Appraisal, Inc. and Magaca Appraisal Konsult.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase our professional expertise in the USA, which is known as the hallmark of real estate industry.” Appraiser Gus told Appraiser News Online. “My job is to help the court in determining the value of the property under litigation.”

Appraiser Agosto is a National Director of the Philippine Association of Real Estate Board, Inc. He is also a faculty of real estate management and finance in the University of San Carlos, Cebu City.

 

Subpoena

 screen shot caption of the subpoena

The importance of taking pictures during site inspections

picsIn every site inspection, an appraiser will surely draw cameras to take pictures of the property. As the saying goes, a picture is worth of a thousand words. This holds true in appraisal. Pictures play an important role in the whole process.

Some clients like banks require photos of the properties; but others will ask why there is a need in taking pictures. They are thinking of their privacy. Let’s discuss the importance of taking pictures in the appraisal.

First, it forms part of the appraisal process. In every appraisal report, you can notice pictures of the property in the annexes or addendum of the report. This helps the appraiser in telling the story of the house and will support the valuation and assumptions provided in the report. Photos can highlight condition, layout, and quality of a house, building or a tract of land. Since no one except the lender or the property owner will read the report, you are assured of the confidentiality and privacy of your properties.

Second, it serves as back-up to the appraisers’ memory. When an appraiser takes photos, the appraiser can remember what the house was like. For instance, there have been times when I labeled the floor as vinyl during my inspection, but the photos clearly showed the floor was ceramic tile. Or maybe in the sketch showed only four bedrooms, but there were actually five based on my photos. Everyone makes mistakes, and that includes appraisers.

Third, it’s documentation. The pictures will greatly help the appraiser if he will be called to testify in the court or any government proceedings.  Since most litigation requires an appraisal of value at the time of taking, photos can be a tremendous tool to assist the appraiser’s description of the property. Few weeks ago, a client asked me to value a property for litigation purposes, I took pictures of the property. Come court hearing, the judge asked the condition of the property, thus I shared in court the pictures I took during the site inspection.

Now you know why an appraiser takes pictures of the properties. Instead of worrying, help the appraiser take good shots by turning on lights and keeping away dogs.

Using Income Approach in Valuation

finanzmanagementThe income method is seldom used in appraisal. Most probably not used in banking institutions. But how are we sure that we are using the right method in valuing real estate properties? Properties that generate income such as apartment buildings, leasable buildings or even public owned enterprise properties subject for litigation should be appraised using the income approach. Lets dive deeper into this method.

This approach converts the income generated or projected income expected to be generated by a property into an estimate of value using one of two ways:  direct capitalization or discounted cash flows.   Both approaches use two important components:  (1) current or estimated cash flows and (2) a capitalization rate or discount rate.

Estimated cash flows should be realistic enough and comparable to the current and historical financial data of the property.  Additional considerations such as the economy or market trends can also impact estimates.  Future plans to expand or add additional assets to the property should also be considered if this will increase your cash flow generated from the property.

The capitalization rate or discount rate should be determined and derived from market data.  The capitalization rate is used to determine a sales price at a given point in time where factors of the market approach can be used.  The sales price could be a current sales price determined by capitalizing the current year’s net operating income.  Sales price could also be a future sales price determined by capitalizing the estimated net operating income of a future period.  The discount rate is the total rate of return a buyer would require to purchase an investment and is used to discount the estimated future cash flows to a present value because a peso received in the future is worth less than a peso today due to time value of money. The discount rate makes the present value of the property’s future cash flows equal.

An appraisal is extremely beneficial in providing information for valuing property.  Thus, Valuers should strive to level up their professional practice and use different methods to arrive at a justifiable and fair market value. That is, a market value that is fair to all concern.

Tips in Litigation Appraisal

downloadI attended a court hearing recently, and when the presiding judge read the facts of the case and the lawyer’s motion to nominate an Appraisal Commissioner, his (Judge) immediate response is “What is the qualification of Mr. Appraiser ?”

An appraiser play an integral role in every part of today’s civil litigation. Litigation appraisal involves taxation, estate planning, expropriation, litigation support, property settlement and others. That is why when selecting a real estate appraiser, a lawyer always perform comprehensive conflict-of-interest checks  on background and qualification before hiring or accepting appraisers.

This conflict of interest check is vital in cases where a lawyer is dealing with large business that offers myriad services and types of clients. While in checking the qualification of an appraiser, a lawyer does it in a profound way through the following attributes such us technical acumen, experience in appraisal, educator and communicator and readiness to appear and have demeanor in court.

Experience in Appraisal – An appraiser should have broad experience in appraisal of different types of properties such us office, retail, warehouse, industrial, apartments, hotels, memorial. Have knowledge in different type of appraisal like fee simple, leasehold or lease fee interest, insurable, retrospective, raw land development method and prospective appraisal.

Technical acumen – associated with professional experience, organizational experience for broader real estate and economic counselling skills capability to solve complex problems requires a greater depth of skills sets. Technical skills are key to an accurate and comprehensive expert report, thoughtful review and critique of the opposing expert report, depositions, and testimony.

Educator and communicator – an appraiser should be ready to explain and discuss  the report in the commissioners meeting or in an open court. A lawyer should pursue in selecting an appraiser’s prior publications and writings. The reasons for examining the expert’s writing are two-fold. First, this type of examination can help a lawyer to further determine the appraiser’s qualifications. Second, how an appraiser presented their arguments and the manner of reasoning and  arrived at their opinion. Is their analysis persuasive? Does the report and opinion make a sense to a lay person?  Have they presented their report in an easy to read and logical manner?

Appearance and demeanor – Lawyer have confidence that the expert will come across as professional and knowledgeable.  At trial or deposition, the appraiser knows the importance of establishing and maintaining credibility, presenting an appropriate appearance and demeanor, remaining composed, considering posed questions carefully, providing a simple and direct answer, giving opinions based on facts, following the standards of generally accepted appraisal practice, being impartial and not advocating for the client, and always telling the truth.

The above characteristics are interrelated. The expert’s qualifications should  matched to the demands of the case as it relates to areas such as property type, experience, or technical requirements. The expert’s ability to articulate his or her position will allow him to better convey his or her skills and qualifications to fellow commissioners, judge, lawyers and other officers of the court. Any aspiring appraiser to be part of this challenging job should muster the above attributes and be of help in our justice system.

See you in court.