For machinery & equipment (M&E) appraisers, there are basically two approaches to value that are ultimately relied upon when completing valuations: the Sales Comparison Approach and the Cost Approach.
Here is a brief description of each:
The Sales Comparison Approach
The Sales Comparison Approach indicates value by analyzing recent sales (or offering prices) of properties that are similar (i.e., comparable) to the subject property. If the comparable data is not identical to the properties being appraised, the selling prices of the comparable items are adjusted to equate them to the characteristics of the properties being appraised.
The reliability of this technique is dependent upon the degree of comparability of each property with the property under appraisal; the time of the sale; the verification of the sale data; and the absence of unusual conditions affecting the sale. This approach focuses on the actions of actual buyers and sellers.
The Cost Approach
The logic behind the Cost Approach is the Principle of Substitution: a prudent buyer will not pay more for a property than the cost of acquiring a substitute property of an equivalent utility.
Using the Cost Approach, the appraiser starts with the current Replacement Cost New of the property being appraised and then deducts for the loss in value caused by physical deterioration, functional obsolescence, and economic obsolescence.
The third approach to value, the Income Approach, is rarely used for M&E appraisals, and I will leave that discussion for another time. The Sales Comparison Approach is also commonly referred to as the “Market Approach”, however, don’t let that trick you into thinking the only time you rely on market data is under this approach. To effectively use the Cost Approach, an appraiser should rely on the marketplace as well, to estimate the variables involved with this approach, including replacement cost new, useful life, depreciation, and salvage value.
Perspective From Both Approaches
Every appraiser has their own process as to how they ultimately utilize the tools available to determine value. It is ultimately an independent, unbiased, subjective opinion, based on the gathering of a reasonable amount of data, which is developed during a research and analysis process.
To that end, from my experience, I have found it beneficial to take components from both approaches, established directly from the marketplace, and create a dual perspective that ultimately forms credibility checks to both, and provides the appraiser with supportable conclusions. Given that comparable sales data can tend to be inconsistent from machine to machine, even from the same sources, this blended approach can create a way to make sense of all the data points and better understand how particular assets should depreciate in the marketplace under normal maintenance and wear and tear guidelines. The use of the Cost Approach in any other way, such as using straight-line depreciation to cover all forms, or trying to develop credible levels of replacement cost and obsolescence by using broad industry data, is simply not reliable or supportable.
In summary, regardless of how much weight an equipment appraiser places on either of these two approaches during a valuation analysis, they should assure their clients that the data collected comes directly from the marketplace. The independent sources that an accredited M&E appraiser can find for virtually any type of asset are out there and available, they just need to do a bit of digging to find them