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Appraiser And Assessor Career

Career Description

Appraisers and assessors of real estate estimate the value of property for a variety of purposes, such as to assess property tax, to confirm adequate collateral for mortgages, to confirm or help set a good sales price, to settle an estate, or to aid in a divorce settlement. They often specialize in appraising or assessing a certain type of real estate such as residential buildings or commercial properties. However, they may be called on to estimate the value of any type of real estate, ranging from farmland to a major shopping center. Assessors estimate the value of all properties in a locality for property tax purposes whereas appraisers appraise properties one at a time.

Common Work Tasks

  • Note any unique characteristics of the property and of the surrounding area, such as a specific architectural style of a building or a major highway located next to the parcel
  • Take pictures to document a certain room or feature, in addition to taking pictures of the exterior of the building
  • Estimate the fair value of the property by taking into consideration such things as comparable home sales, lease records,  location, view, previous appraisals, and income potential
  • Write detailed reports on their research and observations, stating the value of the parcel as well as the precise reasoning and methodology of how they arrived at the estimate
  • Issue notices of assessments and taxes that each property owner must pay
  • Defend the accuracy of their property assessments, either to the owner directly or at a public hearing, since assessors also are responsible for dealing with tax payers who want to contest their assigned property taxes
  • Keep a database of every parcel in their jurisdiction labeling the property owner, issued tax assessment, and size of the property, as well as property maps of the jurisdiction that detail the property distribution of the jurisdiction
  • Use electronic maps to obtain an accurate perspective on the property and buildings surrounding a property
  • Use digital photos to document the physical appearance of a building or land at the time of appraisal
  • Value entire neighborhoods using mass appraisal techniques

Other Job Titles

Appraisers and Assessors are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Building Inspector
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Urban Planner
  • Claims Adjuster
  • Cost Estimator
  • Claims Investigator

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
  Currently, no formal degree requirements exist to become an appraiser or assessor. However, starting in 2008 all appraisers and assessors who need a license will be required to have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in credit hours. Most practicing appraisers and assessors have at least a bachelor’s degree, sometimes in a related field such as economics,  finance, or real estate. The specific training courses necessary, however, are not commonly available as part of most bachelor’s programs and must be taken separately, usually at community colleges or through appraisal- or assessor-related organizations.

Certification and Licensure
      Federal law requires that any appraiser involved in a Federally-related transaction with a loan amount of $250,000 or more must have a State-issued license or certification. Licensing requirements vary by State, but they typically include specific training requirements, a period of work as a trainee, and passing one or more examinations. The qualifications necessary to become an assessor also vary by State, but often are similar to the requirements for becoming an appraiser. In most States, the State assessor board sets education and experience requirements that must be met to obtain a certificate to practice as an assessor. A few States have no State-wide requirements; rather, standards are set by each locality.

Experience
              Appraisers and assessors must possess good analytical skills, mathematical skills, and the ability to pay attention to detail. They also must work well with people and alone. Since they will work with the public, politeness is a must, along with the ability to listen and thoroughly answer any questions about their work.

Salary

The median annual salary of an Appraiser or Assessor is $46,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $87,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $26,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of financial analysts are:

  • Activities Related to Real Estate - $55,050
  • Local Government - $45,110
  • State Government - $52,520
  • Nondepository Credit Intermediation - $62,350
  • Offices of Real Estate Agents and Brokers - $59,450

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  17%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 17,000
  • Employment 2006 : 101,000
  • Employment 2016:  118,000
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