Investigating the use of Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) in the South African commercial property market

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Peer-Reviewed Research


The adoption of Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) in the field of property valuation is a trend, considered controversial and not readily accepted by the valuation profession. The aim of the article is to report on a study conducted in an attempt to determine whether the commercial property sector in South Africa is ready to accept and adopt or reject AVMs and to investigate the possibility of AVMs replacing professional valuation services for commercial property valuations. Limited research was available both nationally and internationally on commercial property AVMs. It was found that AVMs utilised for the valuation of commercial property are still in the development phase and cannot be considered feasible as yet. The major concerning factor is that commercial property markets are heterogeneous. AVMs offer various advantages over traditional methods, but there are also some disadvantages, which were identified in the study. Structured interviews were conducted to determine the opinions and sentiments of commercial property professionals towards commercial property AVMs. As no AVM system exists for commercial property in South Africa, no factual opinion or experience was obtained. The general attitudes towards AVMS were negative and a small percentage of respondents indicated that there may be future potential. AVMs were also regarded as a threat to the valuation profession. It was established that there is scope for commercial property AVMS, however, on a limited basis, and the results could be improved by combining these with traditional valuation techniques. Commercial property AVMs will never replace traditional valuations and can be implemented as a useful tool for verification and auditing of values.