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Editor’s Note: This article explains the four most common valuation methods used for real property transactions and how and when they are used. It’s important to note that the methods below are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Lenders, servicers, investors and other professionals use one or more of these valuation methods, depending on circumstances and the type of transaction. Often, one valuation method is used to confirm or quality-check the results of another.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) – A CMA is prepared by a licensed real estate professional and is most commonly used to help determine a home’s listing price. The CMA should not be the only factor in determining listing price; rather, it is a guide for the agent and owner to evaluate the active and sold competition, and to serve as a tool in the price-setting process. A CMA can also be used—depending on variations in state laws—for a variety of other purposes, including loan modifications, short sales and foreclosure/REO purchases, value trend analysis, mediation and negotiation. It should not serve as the sole method of valuing collateral in a real estate transaction where a mortgage is being originated.

Broker Price Opinion (BPO) – A BPO is prepared by a licensed real estate professional and is an estimate of the probable future selling price of a property. Like CMAs, BPOs may be used—depending on variations in state laws—for a variety of purposes, including loan modifications, short sales and foreclosure/REO purchases, value trend analysis, mediation and negotiation. They normally should not be used as the sole way to value collateral in a real estate transaction where a mortgage is being originated, even though in some states both BPOs and CMAs are technically permitted for purchase money transactions when the transaction is less than $250,000 (though allowed, CMAs are rarely used for this purpose).

Automated Valuation Model (AVM) – An AVM is a service or software that provides property valuations, often based on mathematical modeling. AVMs are most commonly developed or used by lenders, servicer appraisal staff and investors. While AVMs are most often used by lenders or secondary markets to confirm valuations provided in appraisal reports, they should not be used as the sole method to value collateral in a real estate transaction where a mortgage is being originated. They may, however, be used as the sole valuation option for other types of transactions, such as refinances.

Appraisal – An appraisal is prepared by a licensed or certified appraiser and is an opinion of a property’s value. Appraisals are most often used to value collateral in a real estate transaction and are required for most federally-regulated transactions above $250,000. Exceptions include transactions where no new money is involved. In practice, appraisals are used for the vast majority of purchase money transactions involving a loan. For the most part, lenders or servicers determine the use of appraisal or another acceptable methodology for transactions that are not purchase money.

For more education about valuation and pricing, check out this month’s featured online course at the Center for REALTOR® Development, Pricing Strategies: Mastering the CMA, which is the educational requirement for NAR’s Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification, and is on sale this entire month of January at 25% off its regular price. This certification aims to help real estate professionals enhance skills in pricing properties, creating CMAs, working with appraisers, and guiding their clients through the anxieties and misperceptions related to real estate valuation.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

For more information, please visit onlinelearning.realtor.

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