A real estate appraisal is usually required by a bank or lender to make sure that the value of a property is at least as much as the value of the loan. Appraisals are usually based on a sales comparison approach--comparing the subject property to similar properties nearby--or by a cost approach, wereby the appraiser determines how much it would cost to replace a structure if it were damaged or destroyed. When questions arise as to the value of the property at a specific date in the past, however, a retroactive or historical appraisal will need to be obtained.
Determine the purpose of your retroactive appraisal. For instance, the IRS may require an appraisal to determine the value of a real estate asset as of the date of death or date of marriage dissolution of an owner. You may also need to obtain a retroactive appraisal to determine a decline in value if you sell a property at a loss in order to determine a loss for tax purposes.
Contact a licensed real estate appraiser for your state (each state has its own qualifying and licensing requirements). See Resources below to locate an appraiser.
Explain to the real estate appraiser the purpose of your retroactive appraisal, and provide access to the subject property if possible. Also provide whatever documentation you hold (deeds, inspection reports, photographs) as to the condition of the property on the date in question. The appraiser will examine the subject property, your documentation, and historic real estate and construction data for the date in question.
Review the retrospective appraisal with the real estate appraiser. Make sure all comparable sales fall before historic date of the appraisal, since subsequent changes in market value of comps can ruin the accuracy of your retrospective appraisal.