Locate a residential construction project in your area. A large project may have buildings in various stages of construction. Visit the site and write down your observations. In your essay, describe the project and include specific details about the construction, such as the number of units, the type of foundation, the building techniques, and the finishing materials. Use the terminology from the section in your textbook about construction. Include your general assessment of the quality of the construction compared to that of existing homes in the area.

Major newspapers publish special real estate news sections once a week. Read the real estate section of a newspaper and look for the updates on interest rates, surveys of construction costs and sales prices, and articles about legislation or other issues that affect the real estate market. You may also find sales prices of homes listed in the paper. In your essay, describe what you found and describe your response to the material. Would it be helpful to you as an appraiser? Was it complete? Did it leave you with questions?

Locate a new subdivision in your area. Visit the sales office and obtain printed information about the features and prices of the homes. Don’t read the price list until you have examined a model home and formed an opinion of its market value. Go through one of the model homes as if you were performing an appraisal. Note the features that would be included in an appraisal report: number and use of rooms, room size, and so on. Note any unusual features that make the model home significantly higher or lower in value than existing homes in the area. In your essay, write down the details you gathered about the model home, and estimate its market value based on the asking prices for comparable homes in the area. (This information can be found in the newspaper or on the Internet.) Compare your estimate with the builder’s asking price.

Investigate appraisal report-writing software. You can start with an Internet search for real estate appraisal software. Find at least two different software programs designed for appraisers. In your essay, compare the features, costs, advantages, and disadvantages of each program. Discuss whether the programs cater to a specific market or appeal to a certain type of appraiser. Note anything about the programs that surprised you or especially interested you.

Perform a highest and best use analysis on two properties: (1) a residential property you are familiar with (for example, a home you own or an apartment complex where you live), and (2) a commercial property you are familiar with, such as the supermarket where you shop. In your essay, discuss the four tests used to determine highest and best use. Is each property currently at its highest and best use?

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