Property values can be obtained with various degrees of accuracy. In fact, a property may have multiple types of valuations before the deal finally closes. When an investor is doing some initial research, the easiest way to get a ballpark figure on real estate is to log onto any local real estate agent’scma, bpo and appraisals website and search for properties in a particular area of similar size.

Say you’re looking at a four bedroom single family home. You can get a pretty good idea of what the property might ultimately sell for once renovated.

To get to the next level of accuracy you can ask an agent to prepare a certified market analysis or CMA. The agent will research the local multiple listing service for a more thorough review of recent sales data. Unless you have your real estate license and a member of the local real estate association with access to the MLS, you can’t get to the degree of detail that an agent can.

After a contract is signed, a residential appraisal report will be ordered by the lender. If there is no financing, you may order an appraisal directly. For rental properties, the appraisal will contain a separate market rental analysis which will provide a valuation based upon other rental properties and current market rents.

Although primarily used for commercial properties, a broker‘s price opinion, or BPO is available. A real estate broker will prepare a short summary with recent sales information pulled from the MLS. When a bank orders a BPO it’s to assess whether or not the property will make value. If the BPO indicates that it should, then a full appraisal will be ordered. Because residential lenders can only use a residential appraisal report to determine value, BPOs are typically reserved for commercial space or apartment buildings.