To start with, bracketing is a method of selecting sales with both superior, similar and inferior property features. For example, your appraiser will look at recent sales that are both smaller, the same size and larger than your home. The goal is to try and do this for all features that required adjusting (quality, condition, location, etc.).
If a property is similar to the Subject in all ways except one particular feature, the value of the feature would be adjusted for in sales price of the comparable. Example: Comparable #1 has a pool valued at $12,000 where the Subject does not have a pool. The $12,000 would be subtracted from the sales price of the comparable to make the property “match” the Subject. Bracketing comes into play when you start making adjustments. In the above example, you would need to find an additional sale that did not have a pool so you can justify your adjustment.
As you can see, utilizing sales that have both superior and inferior features is a means of validating your adjustments for those features. Remember, on a superior property there will be a downward adjustment in the sales price; an inferior sale would adjust upward to match the Subject property.
In a perfect world each property would indicate the same value after all adjustments are made. But due to the nature of real estate, this isn’t the case. The appraiser will end up with a range of adjusted values; how broad the range depends on the availability of truly comparable sales.. Typically we will lean more towards the values that required less adjustments as that is an indicator of true comparable.
By utilizing bracketing, the appraiser can show that properties from a range of sizes, conditions and quality of construction all indicate a similar value when correct adjustments are applied.