What is the mindset of the appraiser? Just as the earth rotates on its axis, while simultaneously revolving around the sun, appraisers need to do many things right, at the same time. They need to consider multiple variables, the many attributes of the appraised property, and not only compare them to other “comparable” properties, but credibly compare, adjust, and assign them a reasonable value, in dollars. Each of these individual minor comparisons, and corresponding adjustments, involved in solving the appraisal problem, needs to be credibly addressed, appropriately documented, and responsibly reported. Appraisers need to remain objective and impartial, while considering the tracks left by the market, and how the majority of other appraisers would properly solve the same problems.
Appraisal is a process of problem identification, data collection, measurement, reconciliation, and reporting. This process is a template for logical precision within the ethical guidelines, called USPAP, of appraisal. Similar to higher level math classes, not just the answers were important to the grader(s), but the scratch paper, and how the solution was derived is needed to be disclosed. The appraiser’s work file of raw data is every bit as important as the appraisal report itself.
The one word to best describe the unique appraiser mindset is BALANCE.
Think about balance, visuals of balance, its opposite imbalance, gravity, the center, the crux. Balance is a scientific concept, a truth. Outside of science, finding the middle can satisfy both ends of an argument. If you appropriately weight both sides, and position the crux in the right spot, you can achieve a scientific balance. Balance is safe, uncontroversial, low risk, and fairly applies to both sides equally, when correctly applied.
In real estate, there is a ton of imbalance to be aware of—buyers, sellers, real estate sales people (both realtors and mortgage professionals) have different sets of needs that they are positioning. They are not appraisers, they are not bound by USPAP, and their opinions are often imbalanced toward their own interests, the interests of their clients. Balance is not innate in people, it requires hard work to maintain it. The appraiser is brought in as the judge to help sort out the facts, from the conjecture, and arrive at a reasonable balance. Appraisers are often accused of being negative, with regard to value. Appraisers are not negative, I believe, they do consider both the positive and negative attributes of each property, and are forced to weight them responsibly. We(appraisers) know we have achieved this responsible balance when we can back-test our final market value, into the market data we have, and see that it lies in the right place within the value range.
There are no quick, easy answers to correctly measuring a home’s value. It requires time, effort, process, knowledge, experience, responsibility, and credibility.
But most of all, it requires BALANCE.