Don't confuse a comparative market analysis, or CMA, with an appraisal. A CMA is a sales report based on data entered into the multiple listing service, or MLS. Real estate agents use CMAs to help their clients determine realistic asking and offering prices. Appraisals are detailed reports compiled by licensed appraisers. An appraisal is the only valuation report a lender considers when deciding whether to lend the money.
The purpose of a residential appraisal is to give an unbiased and accurate report on the market value of your property.
When valuing real property, there are three basic approaches, which can be employed, being the Cost, Income and Direct Comparison Approaches.
The Cost Approach to value is used when valuing properties consisting of land and building(s) and is most effective when the building(s) are relatively new and not suffering from any great amount of depreciation. Utilizing this approach to value, the land value is estimated by the Direct Comparison Approach based on sales of comparable properties.
The Income Approach to value is used to value investment type properties such as industrial buildings, apartment buildings, office buildings and the like. Gross income is estimated based on economic (market) rents and the expenses necessary to maintain the income stream are also calculated.
The Direct Comparison Approach is most widely used and generally the most reliable method of valuation, assuming enough market data is available to substantiate the opinion of value. To employ this approach, a search of the market is conducted to find sales of comparable properties. When properly adjusted, these comparables will yield an indication of Market Value of the subject property and will reflect the interaction of vendors and purchasers in the open market as they arrive at a price that is considered fair by both parties involved.