When do I need an appraisal?  

The IRS requires appraisals for Estate Planning purposes.

Divorce and dissolution-of-partnership require appraisals.  

Mortgage Loans Require Appraisals which are performed by licensed real estate appraisers.  
When should I use a BPO or CMA for valuation of my property?

The answer is in the following article from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the website link is shown below.​


Responsible Valuation Policy 
(National Association of Realtors)

Purpose of Valuation Policy
This document serves as the National Association of REALTORS® statement of federal policy on valuing real property. It serves as a guide for members and staff in advocacy efforts for federal legislation and regulatory policy. This statement of policy, aside from the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics, is not in any way an attempt to impose new or additional standards of practice or behavior on members of the National Association of REALTORS®.

Standard of Practice 11-1
When REALTORS® prepare opinions of real property value or price, other than in pursuit of a listing or to assist a potential purchaser in formulating a purchase offer, such opinions shall include the following unless the party requesting the opinion requires a specific type of report or different data set:

Identification of the subject property
date prepared
defined value or price
limiting conditions, including statements of purpose(s) and intended user(s)
any present or contemplated interest, including the possibility of representing the seller/landlord or buyers/tenants
basis for the opinion, including applicable market data
if the opinion is not an appraisal, a statement to that effect (Amended 1/10)

Responsible Valuation Policy
Persons who perform appraisals of real property shall be licensed or certified by their respective state regulatory agency and the appraisal shall be conducted in accordance with standards established in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).
No person with an interest in the mortgage transaction shall compensate, coerce, extort, collude, instruct, induce, bribe, or intimidate a person, appraisal management company, or firm for the purpose of causing the appraised value to be based on anything other than the independent analysis of the appraiser.

Non-Appraisal Opinions

Non-appraisal opinions, such as Broker Price Opinions (BPO) and comparative market analyses performed by REALTORS® shall contain, at a minimum, the information specified in Standard of Practice 11-1 of the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics except where the party requesting the opinion requests a specific type of report or different data set, or where the opinion is developed in pursuit of a listing or to assist a potential purchaser in formulating a purchase offer.

Among other uses, these non-appraisal services can help determine listing prices and are used to estimate potential selling prices of a property. Except where exempted or prohibited by the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics, state, local or federal law, they should include the disclosure of a review of the subject property, subject neighborhood review and analysis, local and regional market information and trends, and a description of comparable properties that are similar to the subject property. 

Any non-appraisal opinion that does not provide the aforementioned components shall be disclosed by the provider of the service. Non-appraisal opinions must make it clear to the intended user that it is not an appraisal.
Non-appraisal opinions shall be prepared by a real estate licensee or registered, licensed or certified appraiser. A licensee completing these services for a client is not necessarily assured of receiving the listing of the property.

When not restricted by law, non-appraisal opinions may be appropriate for many real estate transactions, such as short sales, foreclosures, and loan modifications.

In adhering to Article 11 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, consideration must be given to the intended use and intended user when developing any valuation.

A comparative market analysis (CMA) is generally used to provide information to sellers or buyers in determining listing price or offering price.  

A Commercial Real Estate CMA typically costs $500.  
A CMA is similar to a BPO in that it provides an estimated value of the property. 

However, a CMA is much more focused on comparable properties and supports value based on properties that have sold recently.