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VALUATION is the process of estimating what something is worth. Items that are usually valued are a financial asset or liability. Valuations can be done on assets (for example, investments in marketable securities such as stocks, options, business enterprises, or intangible assets such as patents and trademarks) or on liabilities (e.g., bonds issued by a company). Valuations are needed for many reasons such as investment analysis, capital budgeting, merger and acquisition transactions, financial reporting, taxable events to determine the proper tax liability, and in litigation.

Valuation of financial assets is done using one or more of these types of models:

  • Absolute value models that determine the present value of an asset's expected future cash flows. These kinds of models take two general forms: multi-period models such as discounted cash flow models or single-period models such as the Gordon model. These models rely on mathematics rather than price observation.
  • Relative value models determine value based on the observation of market prices of similar assets.
  • Option pricing models are used for certain types of financial assets (e.g., warrants, put options, call options, employee stock options, investments with embedded options such as a callable bond) and are a complex present value model. The most common option pricing models are the Black–Scholes-Merton models and lattice models.

Common terms for the value of an asset or liability are market value, fair value, and intrinsic value. The meanings of these terms differ. For instance, when an analyst believes a stock's intrinsic value is greater (less) than its market price, an analyst makes a "buy" ("sell") recommendation. Moreover, an asset's intrinsic value may be subject to personal opinion and vary among analysts.

Real estate appraisal, property valuation or land valuation is the process of valuing real property. The value usually sought is the property's market value. Appraisals are needed because compared to, say, corporate stock, real estate transactions occur very infrequently. Not only that, but every property is different from the next, a factor that doesn't affect assets like corporate stock. Furthermore, all properties differ from each other in their location - which is an important factor in their value. So a centralized Walrasian auction setting can't exist for the trading of property assets, such as exists to trade corporate stock (i.e. a stock market/exchange). This product differentiation and lack of frequent trading, unlike stocks, means that specialist qualified appraisers are needed to advise on the value of a property. The appraiser usually provides a written report on this value to his or her client. These reports are used as the basis for mortgage loans, for settling estates and divorces, for tax matters, and so on. Sometimes the appraisal report is used by both parties to set the sale price of the property appraised.

In some areas, an appraiser doesn't need a license or any certification to appraise property. Usually, however, most countries or regions require that appraisals be done by a licensed or certified appraiser (in many countries known as a Property Valuer or Land Valuer and in British English as a "valuation surveyor"). If the appraiser's opinion is based on Market Value, then it must also be based on the Highest and Best Use of the real property. For mortgage valuations of improved residential property in the US, the appraisal is most often reported on a standardized form, such as the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report. Appraisals of more complex property (e.g. -- income producing, raw land) are usually reported in a narrative appraisal report.

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