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The Difference Between an Assessor and an Appraiser
Thursday, August 13, 2015

We may have told you What Exactly Appraisers Do, but as succinct and informative as that post was, it doesn’t necessarily give a good description of what an “assessor” does. See, while the two terms may be used regularly with one in place of the other, they shouldn’t be. To the team working at Lexur Appraisal Services, using “assessor” and “appraiser” interchangeably is like swapping out Coca-Cola for Pepsi. You just don’t do it.

Though the overall functions of these two professions do have similar work environments and similar duties when evaluating properties, how they evaluate a property/properties is not the same and they don’t necessarily inspect the same characteristics. Also, another variation between an assessor and an appraiser is when you’re working to earn your accreditation or license, the education isn’t 100 percent the same. Yes, both an assessor and an appraiser must be educated on real estate, contributing factors to a property’s values, how to determine comparables, etc., but in the real estate realm they diverge from each other, and the education does as well.

What makes the duties and responsibilities of an assessor and an appraiser the same is that both work in real estate; they verify legal descriptions noted in public records; they inspect both new and existing properties; they both photograph all aspects of a property; they both use comparable properties to determine the price of that property/those properties they’re examining; they write reports about how they determined a property’s value; and both of these real estate-related professionals must be knowledgeable on the current data on appropriate properties. This, however, is where the similarities between an assessor and an appraiser end.

To put it in the simplest of terms, an appraiser is an individual who typically only evaluates one property at a time. An assessor, however, often estimates the value of an entire neighborhood of homes, buildings, complexes, etc. at once. An assessor is able to examine multiple properties at one time by using mass appraisal techniques and also utilizing computer-assisted mass appraisal, or CAMA, systems. While it seems like if a person can appraise one property at a time, certainly they can assess multiple properties? Same with the inverse, if a person is able to assess the value of multiple properties, couldn’t they appraise just one? This may seem like the logical step, but the real estate world doesn’t always follow the most logical path. Besides, how else could you explain novelty architecture?

Making the differences even more complicated, usually an assessor works for the local government. Assessors are looking at properties for tax assessments, and because of this job requirement, assessors must be informed and up-to-date on all tax assessment procedures. Because they work for the government, an evaluation completed by assessors must be completely accurate. Why? Citizens can argue the market value or property tax from a report that was completed in the assessor’s jurisdiction. Appraisers, on the other hand, can specialize in a type of real estate they want to concentrate on. The common types of real estate appraisers choose to focus on are commercial (office buildings, retail spaces, hotels, etc.) and residential (houses, condominiums, townhomes, etc.).

Though both assessors and appraisers work within the real estate market, and some work with the same type of properties, they aren’t the same. Just like when people use “between” in an instance that “among” should be used, swapping out “appraiser” for “assessor” (and vice versa) isn’t right. But the exact specifics of the reports these experts draw up and those disparities? Well, those are still argued.

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