Appraisers and assessors of real estate provide an estimate of the value of land and the buildings on the land usually before it is sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed.Duties
Appraisers and assessors of real estate typically do the following:
Appraisers and assessors work in localities that they are familiar with so that they know any environmental or other concerns that may affect the property's value.
Appraisers typically value one property at a time, and they often specialize in a certain type of real estate:
When evaluating a property's value, appraisers note the characteristics of the property and surrounding area, such as a view or noisy highway nearby. They also consider the overall condition of a building, including its foundation and roof or any renovations that may have been done. Appraisers photograph the outside of the building and some of the interior features to document its condition. After visiting the property, the appraiser analyzes the property relative to comparable home sales, including lease records, location, view, previous appraisals, and income potential. During the entire process, appraisers record their research, observations, and methods used in providing an estimate of the property’s value.
Assessors value properties for property tax assessments. Most work for local governments. Unlike appraisers, who generally focus on one property at a time, assessors often value an entire neighborhood of homes at once by using mass appraisal techniques and computer-assisted appraisal systems.
Assessors must be up to date on tax assessment procedures. Taxpayers sometimes challenge the assessed value because they feel they are being charged too much for property tax. Assessors must be able to defend the accuracy of their property assessments, either to the owner directly or at a public hearing.
Assessors also keep a database of every property in their jurisdiction, identifying the property owner, assessment history, and characteristics of the property, as well as property maps detailing the property distribution of the jurisdiction.
The requirements to become a fully qualified appraiser or assessor of real estate are complex and vary by state and, sometimes, by the value or type of property. Most appraisers of residential or commercial property must have at least a bachelor’s degree to obtain the entry-level state license category. Check with your state's licensing board for specific requirements for both assessors and appraisers.Education
Although requirements may vary by state, appraisers of residential or commercial property usually must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
College courses in subjects such as economics, finance, mathematics, computer science, English, and business or real estate law can be useful for prospective appraisers and assessors.
Most states set education and experience requirements that assessors must meet in order to practice. A few states have no statewide requirements; instead, each locality sets the standards. In some localities, candidates may qualify with a high school diploma.Training
Employers generally require candidates to take basic appraisal courses, complete long-term on-the-job training, and work enough hours to meet the requirements for licenses or certificates.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Federal law requires appraisers to have a state license or certification when working on federally related transactions, such as appraisals for loans made by federally insured banks and financial institutions. The Appraisal Foundation (TAF) offers information on appraisal licensing. There is no such federal requirement for assessors, although some states require certification. For state specific requirements, applicants should contact their state board.
Real property appraisers usually value one property at a time, while assessors value many at once, but both occupations use similar methods and techniques. As a result, assessors and appraisers tend to take the same courses for certification. In addition to passing a statewide examination, candidates must usually complete a set number of on-the-job hours.
The credential level determines what type of property a person may appraise. The four federal appraiser classifications are as follows:
• Licensed Trainee Real Property Appraiser
• Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser
• Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser
• Certified General Real Property Appraiser
Many states offer a Licensed Trainee Real Property Appraiser credential to candidates working toward licensure or certification. Training programs vary by state, but they usually require candidates to take at least 75 hours of specified appraiser education before applying for a job as a trainee.
Many states offer the Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser. With this license, a qualified person may appraise noncomplex one-to-four unit residences with a value of less than $1 million and complex one-to-four unit residences with a value of less than $250,000. A candidate must have the following qualifications to get this certificate:
• 30 semester hours of college-level education
• 150 hours of appraiser-qualifying education
• 2,000 hours of on-the-job training completed over at least 1 year
Being a Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser is the minimum requirement to appraise a residential property with a loan amount over $250,000 or any other type of residential property even if the loan amount is less than $250,000. A candidate must have the following qualifications to get this certificate:
• Bachelor’s degree
• 200 hours of appraiser-specific qualifying education
• 2,500 hours of work experience completed over at least 2 years
Being a Certified General Real Property Appraiser permits a person to appraise real property of any type and any value. A candidate must have the following qualifications to get this certificate:
• Bachelor’s degree
• 300 hours of appraiser-specific qualifying education
• 3,000 hours of work experience completed over at least 2½ years
For all of these credentials, except the Trainee License credential, candidates must have the following qualifications:
• Have 15 hours of classroom instruction on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice
• Pass an exam
Unlike appraisers, assessors have no federal requirement for certification. In states that mandate certification for assessors, the requirements are usually similar to those for appraisers. For example, the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) offers the Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE). This designation covers topics that include property valuation for tax purposes, property tax administration, and property tax policy. Applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree prior to obtaining the designation.
For those states that do not require certification for assessors, the hiring office usually requires the candidate to take basic appraisal courses, complete on-the-job training, and meet the work-hours requirements for appraisal licenses or certificates. Many assessors also have a state appraiser license or credential.
Assessors tend to start working in an assessor's office that provides on-the-job training; smaller municipalities are often unable to provide this work experience. An alternate source of experience for aspiring assessors is through a revaluation firm.
Both appraisers and assessors must take continuing education courses to keep the license or certification. Exact requirements vary by state and certification.Important Qualities
Analytical skills. Appraisers and assessors of real estate use many sources of data when valuing a property. As a result, they must carefully research and analyze all factors before estimating a value and producing a final written report.
Customer-service skills. Because appraisers must regularly interact with clients, being polite and friendly is important. In addition, these characteristics may help expand future business opportunities.
Math skills. Accurately analyzing real estate data includes such steps as calculating square footage of land and building space, so workers must have good math skills.
Organizational skills. To successfully accomplish all the tasks related to appraising and assessing a property, appraisers and assessors of real estate need good organizational skills.
Problem-solving skills. Appraising or assessing a property's value may involve unexpected problems. The ability to develop and apply an alternative solution is crucial to successfully completing the appraisal and report on time.
Time-management skills. Appraisers and assessors of real estate often work under time constraints, sometimes appraising many properties in a single day. As a result, managing time and meeting deadlines are important.
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