The Great Value in a Professional Property Appraisal After a Home Fire

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 58,985 wildfires resulting in 7.1 million scorched acres occurred in 2021. Because of the uptick in fire statistics like this, property owners are thinking about the what-ifs of disastrous fire-related property damage. We thought it a good time to talk about how Manzi’s appraisal professionals help our clients overcome investment losses by learning about the great value in a professional property appraisal after a home fire.

Retrospective Fair Market Valuations for Structures that are Completely Destroyed

Appraisals are often interpreted as a valuation system that occurs before possible damage occurs, but in fact, appraisals can be done after disasters for several reasons. For example, insurance companies may order a property appraisal to determine retrospective fair market valuations for structures that are completely destroyed to determine a cost approach to replacement value.

Anytime a property is completely destroyed, the initial property appraisal is a retrospective investigation to establish losses and identify a fair market valuation and structural replacement costs. If you, the property owner, want to negate the findings of an insurance property appraisal, your appraisal would have a retrospective date to document the preceding worth before damage.

Other property appraisals, for such things as proving IRS claims or litigation, would require a pre-and post-fire appraisal date if you are attempting to rebut the established data provided in a retrospective appraisal valuation. This establishes the preceding and current market value of a property, which is why there are usually a few property appraisal experts involved in the process.

When Is an Appraisal Ordered After a Disaster?

Property owners may also hire a property appraisal service when they have a differing view of a fair market replacement value, litigation purposes, or for tax purposes when determining net casualty losses, which the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) no longer allows deductions through 2025 from issues like fire, theft, earthquakes, terrorism, or floods if not from a natural disaster.

How Does an Appraiser Value a Home if it is No Longer There?

You are probably wondering how property appraisals are done when structures are no longer there, right? This is where experience really matters in the property appraiser you choose for the job as research is a major part of establishing value retrospectively. The more experience a company has with property appraisals, the better off you will be in receiving the right valuation.

Retrospective fair market valuations are done established using the value of a piece of property the day before a fire occurs. Appraisers rely on both public and personal records. For example, we will verify records from tax records, zoning permits, real estate listings, or previous property appraisal records. We also use personal records like photos, family records, and files.

What Type of Information Does the Owner Need to Provide to the Appraiser?

One of the most asked questions from readers is what type of information a property owner needs to provide to an appraiser. Appraisers depend on the information available, so the more you have, the more accurate you will be in establishing a fair market value of the property. Gathering info early on also reduces the stress from property owners in having to do so post-fire.

We advise our clients during consultations to pay attention to structural components more readily than land. Your land usually retains its value. We advise you to keep any records of purchases, renovations, upgrades, or additions. Your initial insurance policy may not have these records. We also advise you to hold on to receipts for big-ticket items like a new roof or wood flooring.

Manzi Appraisers & Restorers have worked with insurance companies and personal property owners to establish accurate valuations for over 20 years. If you need a consult or a personal property appraisal, call 617-948-2577 or visit