Real Estate Appaisers and Assessors

Real estate assessors and appraisers determine property values. Property values are used during divorce and estate settlements, establishing values to sell property, and determining property tax rates and collateral value. Assessors and appraisers usually specialize in commercial or residential real estate, but many determine property values for both types of real estate. Some real estate assessors value property to determine property tax rates in a specific region while real estate appraisers determine values for individual properties.

No matter what sort of property is being appraised or assessed, real estate professionals use similar techniques. Real estate appraisal and assessor professionals usually perform their work in regions they know well since factors other than the property's condition and age can affect property values. While performing their work, real estate professionals pay special attention to any special features of the property or attractive features nearby, such as major highways and stores. Likewise, they make note of recent remodeling work and the property's condition, such as the strength of the property's foundation. They also take pictures of the interior and exterior of the building and the lot it sits on for their records. Once the appraisal is finished, real estate appraisers and assessors determine property value by taking surrounding property values, location, prior property valuations, and possible future value increases into consideration.

Appraisers and assessors prepare comprehensive appraisal reports with the reasons and methods they used to justify their conclusions. Since many appraisal professionals now use laptops, making it possible to prepare reports during property inspections and instantly retrieve information, reports are often completed quickly. Electric map technology, used to accurately determine where land is distributed and situated, is another example of modern technology utilized by real estate appraisers and assessors.

Appraisers usually determine property values on an individual basis. Appraisers who determine values for real property usually specialize in certain types of real estate. They could be experts on either commercial or residential property values. Those who appraise commercial property usually understand how to appraise residential properties, but specialize in particular types of commercial properties such as malls or office buildings. Some appraisals do not specialize and will appraise either residential or commercial property.

Municipal governments usually assign or hold elections to select assessors responsible for determining property values so property tax rates can be accurately measured. They use appraisal methods to determine home values on entire streets instead of appraising each house separately. If a home owner does not agree with the assessor's conclusions, the assessor will usually appraise the home individually. Many assessors rely on automated computer programs designed for the areas where they conduct their appraisals. Most municipalities require that property appraisals occur every year. Teams of assessors working in appraisal firms usually determine property values for most properties located in the municipality hiring them. Once the property values have been estimated, assessors usually certify their work.

After property reassessments are finished, assessors notify residents of the taxes they owe. Assessors are often required to defend their conclusions since residents often appeal their tax bills. Assessors are required to maintain records of property locations, area measurements, tax rates, and owner's names. With these records, assessors also store property maps.

Work Environment
Appraisers and assessors conduct a lot of research and write numerous reports, but new computer technology has made it possible for real estate professionals to work at home or at the property they are appraising. Additionally, real estate professionals can now access records over the internet that have traditionally been stored at city halls or courthouses. Technology has made it possible for appraisers running their own businesses, known as independent fee appraisers, to spend more time conducting research at a property instead of spending time at the office. Whether appraisers spend time in an office or a property depends on their real estate specialty. Appraisers specializing in residential real estate usually spend more time in the field than commercial real estate appraisers. Those working for private companies spend the majority of their hours inside an office. These professionals usually conduct their appraisals by themselves.

Independent fee appraisers usually work nights and weekends, resulting in weeks where they work more than 40 hours. They usually conduct their appraisal work during the day to better accommodate peoples' schedules. Assessors and appraisers working for private companies usually work 40 hour weeks but sometimes work nights and weekends. During 2006, over 10 percent performed appraisal and assessing work part time.

Independent fee appraisers usually work by themselves or hire a few employees. Banks and mortgage service companies often hire multiple appraisers. The number of assessors working for a local government depends on whether they work for a city or county. More assessors work for county authorities since counties are usually large. A small city government may hire one assessor to evaluate property values for the entire city.

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