Those unfamiliar with the methodologies and approaches equipment appraisers utilize in their work, commonly believe we are very similar to accountants, who analyze data and perform calculations to arrive at a factual conclusion. While there is certainly some mathematical analysis involved in an equipment appraisal, the ultimate conclusions opined on have a degree of subjectivity given the incongruities often found in the available information uncovered.
Even an asset as straightforward as a truck or trailer can have any number of differing market opinions and comparables to review and consider, before ultimately determining a reasonable value.
A more appropriate example would be that of a jigsaw puzzle, where several of the pieces don’t quite fit. The pieces come from three typical buckets of historical and current information, including (1) secondary market comparable sales and listings; (2) estimated replacement cost new, opinions on useful life and average market-derived depreciation; and (3) specifics on the actual machinery being appraised, such as historical costs, specifications, usage, hours/miles, and maintenance.
All of these three areas should be researched and considered as part of the build-out of the puzzle. However, given the potentially large amount of information compiled from these buckets, there will always be pieces that need to be adjusted in order to make sense of the overall picture. I have found it is rare when it all fits together perfectly and, therefore, the final conclusions of value require some subjective decision-making on the part of the appraiser.
This is where experience, common sense, and practicality all make a difference in the final steps of the analysis. A+B+C will not always equal D and is not just a straight-line calculation. Quite frankly, this is a primary reason experienced appraisers are utilized in business transactions and is what separates a really good appraiser from an average one.
The ability to take a step back and make sense of all the information to ultimately conclude on value is a nuanced effort that should be supported by reasonable logic. When you place the last pieces and see the complete puzzle, there may be a few gaps and some bent edges, but the overall picture is clear enough to make sense of it all.