Depreciation in the Cost Approach in Real Estate Valuation

When it comes to valuing properties in the field of real estate, the cost approach is one of the most important methodologies. This approach is based on evaluating how much it would cost to replace the property with one with similar characteristics. A crucial component of this approach is depreciation, which reflects decreases in property value over time. There are several types of depreciation, and in the cost approach, three main types are considered:

1. Physical Deterioration

Physical deterioration refers to the wear and tear and decay of the property due to aging, use, and exposure to the elements. This type of depreciation considers the loss of value due to the physical degradation of the property. Examples of this include leaky roofs, cracked foundations, or outdated electrical systems. Appraisers take this depreciation into account when calculating the replacement value of the property.

2. Functional Obsolescence

Functional obsolescence refers to the loss of value of a property due to deficiencies in its design or functionality. This may include outdated features, a lack of efficiency in the layout of spaces, or limitations in the utility of the property. A common example of functional obsolescence is a home with an outdated kitchen design that does not meet modern expectations. When evaluating replacement value, appraisers take this depreciation into account.

3. Economic Obsolescence

Economic obsolescence refers to the loss of value of a property due to external or market factors. This may include the presence of unwanted items near the property, changes in the economic environment, or problems with the location of the property. An example of economic obsolescence would be a property located near a waste processing plant that significantly reduces the value of surrounding properties.

4. Quantification of Depreciation

It is essential that appraisers are able to quantify depreciation accurately. To do this, they use various methodologies and techniques. Physical Depreciation is often calculated by evaluating the cost of repairs necessary to restore the property to its original condition. Functional Obsolescence involves considering the cost of modifying or updating obsolete features of a property. Economic Obsolescence is assessed by analyzing market conditions and external circumstances that affect value.

5. Net Replacement Cost

Net replacement value is an important concept related to depreciation. Refers to the total cost of replacing the property with a new one, less depreciation. To calculate it, construction costs, demolition costs and accumulated depreciation are considered. Net replacement value is essential in determining the current value of a property in the cost approach.

6. Property Specific Considerations

Each property may have its own specific depreciation considerations. For example, a commercial property could experience Functional Obsolescence due to the obsolescence of its technological infrastructure, while a residential property could experience Economic Obsolescence due to changes in the local economy. Appraisers should evaluate these considerations based on the unique characteristics of the property they are appraising.


When using the cost approach in real estate valuation, it is essential to consider the different types of depreciation that affect the value of the property. Physical depreciation, functional obsolescence, and economic obsolescence are critical factors that appraisers evaluate to determine the replacement value of a property. These concepts help ensure that accurate and fair valuations are made in the real estate market.

Legal and Tax Disclaimer

Please be advised that the content presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The articles and information provided here are written from the perspective of a real estate agent affiliated with Keller Williams, and do not represent legal or tax counsel.

As the author, I am a licensed real estate professional under Keller Williams, holding Brokerage DRE License Number: #02197031. However, it is important to note that my expertise is in the field of real estate, and not in legal or tax matters. The insights and opinions shared on this blog are based on my experiences and knowledge in the real estate industry and should be treated as general guidance rather than definitive legal or tax advice.

For specific legal or tax concerns relating to any real estate transactions or investments, readers are strongly encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances and the latest legal and regulatory requirements.

The information on this blog is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, and I, along with Keller Williams and its affiliates, disclaim all liability for any loss, damage, or misunderstanding arising from reliance on the information contained herein.

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