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Obsolescence Functional/External: Real Estate License Explained

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In the world of real estate, there are a multitude of terms and concepts that can be confusing for both new and seasoned professionals. One such term is “Obsolescence Functional/External.” Although it may sound complex, understanding this concept is crucial for anyone working in the real estate industry.

What is Obsolescence Functional/External?

Obsolescence Functional/External refers to a form of depreciation that affects the value of a property. It is the deterioration or loss of productivity caused by factors that are either inherent to the property (functional obsolescence) or external to it (external obsolescence).

Functional obsolescence occurs when a property or a particular feature of a property becomes outdated or no longer useful. This could be due to changes in technology, design trends, or shifts in buyer preferences. For example, a house with only one bathroom may be considered functionally obsolete in a market where most buyers prefer multiple bathrooms for convenience and comfort. In commercial real estate, functional obsolescence can occur when a building’s layout no longer meets the needs of modern businesses, leading to decreased demand and lower rental rates.

External obsolescence, on the other hand, refers to external factors that negatively impact a property’s value. These factors are typically outside the property owner’s control and can include things like noise pollution from nearby highways or airports, environmental hazards such as toxic waste sites or industrial pollution, or an undesirable neighborhood with high crime rates. External obsolescence can significantly reduce property values and make it challenging to sell or lease a property at competitive rates.

Understanding Obsolescence Functional/External

Obsolescence, whether functional or external, can significantly impact the marketability and value of a property. It is essential for real estate professionals to understand these concepts in order to accurately assess property values and help clients make informed decisions.

Functional obsolescence can manifest in various ways. It could be something as simple as outdated fixtures or appliances, a poor layout, or inadequate storage space. It could also be an issue with the property’s overall design that makes it less desirable to buyers or limits its potential uses.

External obsolescence, on the other hand, is often beyond the immediate control of the property owner. Factors that contribute to external obsolescence can include proximity to noisy highways or airports, negative changes in the surrounding neighborhood, or the presence of environmental hazards like chemical plants or landfills.

One key aspect to consider when evaluating functional obsolescence is the concept of economic obsolescence. This occurs when factors external to the property, such as changes in the local economy or market conditions, affect the property’s value. For example, a once-thriving industrial area that has now shifted to a more residential focus may render a commercial property economically obsolete.

External obsolescence can also be influenced by governmental policies and regulations. Zoning changes, new building codes, or infrastructure developments can all contribute to a property’s external obsolescence. Real estate professionals must stay informed about these external factors to provide accurate assessments and recommendations to their clients.

Why Is Obsolescence Functional/External Important?

Understanding obsolescence functional/external is critical because it directly affects a property’s value and marketability. Real estate professionals need to factor in these elements when determining a property’s listing price, negotiating offers, or advising clients on investment opportunities.

By recognizing functional obsolescence, real estate agents can identify potential improvements or renovations that could enhance a property’s desirability and value. Similarly, being aware of external obsolescence allows agents to accurately assess the impact of external factors on a property’s current and future marketability.

Functional obsolescence refers to features within a property that are no longer desirable or useful to modern buyers. This could include outdated appliances, inefficient layouts, or lack of essential amenities. Real estate agents play a crucial role in highlighting these aspects to sellers and buyers, guiding them on potential upgrades or adjustments to increase the property’s appeal.

External obsolescence, on the other hand, pertains to factors outside the property that diminish its value. This could range from environmental issues like noise pollution or proximity to undesirable facilities, to economic factors such as declining neighborhood conditions. Understanding and addressing external obsolescence is vital for real estate professionals to accurately evaluate a property’s worth in the current market.

Example of Obsolescence Functional/External

Let’s consider an example to illustrate the concept of obsolescence functional/external in the real estate context. Imagine a house that was built in the 1970s with a floor plan that is no longer in line with modern design trends. The kitchen is cramped, and the layout is compartmentalized, which doesn’t suit the preferences of today’s buyers. This outdated design represents functional obsolescence.

In addition to the functional obsolescence, suppose this house is located near a busy highway, resulting in constant noise pollution. The external obsolescence caused by the undesirable location significantly affects the property’s marketability and value.

Furthermore, the outdated electrical wiring in the house poses a safety hazard, as it is not up to current building code standards. This additional layer of functional obsolescence not only affects the usability of the property but also raises concerns about the well-being of its occupants. Upgrading the electrical system to meet modern safety requirements would be a costly endeavor for any potential buyer.

Moreover, the external obsolescence of the property is exacerbated by the lack of nearby amenities such as schools, parks, and shopping centers. This isolated location not only diminishes the convenience of daily living for residents but also hinders the property’s attractiveness to potential buyers looking for a well-connected community. The combination of functional and external obsolescence in this scenario underscores the challenges faced in marketing and selling a property that does not meet contemporary standards and preferences.

Why Is Obsolescence Functional/External Important in Real Estate?

In the real estate industry, knowledge of obsolescence functional/external is crucial because it allows professionals to accurately evaluate properties and provide clients with informed insights. By assessing the functional and external factors impacting a property, real estate agents can provide accurate pricing recommendations, identify potential improvements, and effectively market the property to potential buyers.

Ignoring obsolescence functional/external can result in overpricing a property, leading to extended time on the market and potential financial losses for the seller. On the other hand, underestimating the impact of these factors may result in properties selling below their market value.

Functional obsolescence refers to issues within a property that make it less desirable or functional to potential buyers. This could include outdated features, poor layout design, or inadequate amenities that do not align with current market trends. External obsolescence, on the other hand, relates to factors outside the property that affect its value, such as proximity to noisy highways, environmental hazards, or lack of nearby amenities like schools and shopping centers.

Real estate professionals must carefully consider both forms of obsolescence when evaluating a property to ensure they provide accurate and competitive services to their clients. By conducting thorough assessments and staying informed about market trends, agents can help clients make informed decisions that align with their financial goals and property preferences.


Obsolescence functional/external plays a vital role in the real estate industry. Real estate professionals must understand these concepts to accurately assess property values, provide valuable advice to clients, and ultimately succeed in their careers. By staying informed and accounting for obsolescence functional/external factors, professionals can navigate the intricacies of the market and help clients make informed decisions.

Whether you are a real estate agent, investor, or homeowner looking to sell, understanding obsolescence functional/external is key to achieving success in the ever-changing and competitive real estate market.

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