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Narrative Report Writing 7 - Presenting Physical Data

by Administrator on May 8, 2013 Narrative Writing 1970 Views

No standard format exists for presenting the physical information necessary to describe a subject real property or a comparable property in a commercial narrative appraisal report.  There are many appraisers who have strong preferences, and there are important facts that must be presented in a report regardless of who writes it, but a narrative report does not provide check boxes like a form appraisal and thankfully there is some latitude regarding how physical information is presented.
There is of course a trade off in every report, the more detail included in an appraisal report generally the more time that must be spent on collection, verification, format / layout and discussion.  While some appraisers have the benefit of established databases and automatically formatted data sheets, others must create each data sheet individually to display a comparable sales or rental.  Creating information for presentation in an appraisal report is a time consuming task, so finding ways to do it efficiently is a challenge. 
Attached to this article is an example of the subject data layout sheet that I have used in many reports, I do change my layouts based on the property type, intended use and at time even for the intended user.  In my opinion data sheets for self-contained reports should provide more detail for a litigation appraisal assignment than for a summary "value update" report that is bound for a file.  New narrative appraisal software is being marketed that has attempted to develop a minimalist format.  I know that there are always appraisers who look negatively at the minimalist approach, but providing the least amount of detail necessary to competently complete the assignment is the goal of many appraisers, and most of the ones who are trying to make a living.  If you have been in the business for any amount of time I'm sure that there have been times when you have regretted the amount of time that you had to put into some appraisal reports after you quoted a "competitive fee" and failed to fairly compensate yourself for your time.  
How much detail is sufficient for a summary report?  How much detail is sufficient in a self-contained report?  From what I have seen what is appropriate varies from appraiser to appraiser.  The "purist" who is trying to give his reader each and every detail that is available, you know the ones who calls the newspaper to confirm the validity of the statistics that they used in their latest article, those individuals are not going to be happy with a minimalist type of summary report, and I have read self-contained reports that are so thick they have been broken down into volumes.  So what is appropriate of reasonable it is a difficult question to answer.  It’s important to remember that offering "summarized" information doesn't mean that the information isn't in the report it just means that you have shortened its presentation.
Most appraisers take the time to consider what their peers are doing, they look at their competitor's reports and if they are like me they keep digital copies of each and every one of them that they run across. I like to take a hard look at competitor reports to see what others are doing, and consider whether my reports are better or worse than theirs based on style and content.  I evaluate the maps, tables, layout, market data and methodologies / analyses used.  If I find that the appraiser who wrote the report is doing some thing or multiple things better than I am, then I decide what changes I should make to my report.
I don't set myself up as an appraisal report writing critic.  I have seen a number of reports that I considered to be of extremely poor quality, but I think that poor appraisals eventually catch up with those who complete them.  I am always perplexed when I read appraisal reports that form value opinions for commercial retail or office buildings in which the appraiser decided for some reason to limit his or her analysis to a sales approach.  I don't know about you, but I just can't turn a blind eye to the income approach when appraising a commercial property that is bought and sold based on its income generating capacity.
There are of course basic physical, legal and economic factors that should be reported in any appraisal report on an improved commercial real property.  Things like; site size / shape, accessibility, visibility, orientation, zoning, improvement  size / shape, wall height, foundation, construction, roofing, interior and exterior finish, mechanical / equipment, plumbing / electrical and heating / cooling systems, windows, doors and parking.  That’s a quick list that is not meant to be complete.
When I originally started writing narrative appraisal reports I went back to detailed commercial real estate listing forms to see what factual data was typically collected.  Some of the commercial fact sheets that I have on file are quite extensive and some have more detail than you would find in even the most detailed appraisal reports.
In the final analysis you will have to satisfy yourself with the level of detail that you provide in your reports.  Data sheets are useful because they can make sure that important details are not overlooked.
For more appraisal information contact Glenn Rigdon MA, MRICS, ASA is a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada appraiser who can be contacted via email or via his business website Appraiser Las Vegas  (, or you can also click on “Contact Us” on the home page of this website or visit my public profile at LinkedIn at

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