Appraisers and assessors of real estate provide a value estimate on land and buildings.
What they do
Appraisers and assessors of real estate provide a value estimate on land and buildings usually before they are sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured, or developed.
Appraisers and assessors of real estate typically do the following:
- Verify legal descriptions of real estate properties in public records
- Inspect new and existing properties, noting the characteristics
- Photograph the interior and exterior of properties
- Analyze “comparables,” or similar nearby properties, to help provide values
- Prepare written reports on the property values
- Prepare and maintain current data on each real estate property
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:
- appraisers specialize in income-producing properties, such as office buildings, stores, and hotels.
- Residential appraisers focus on appraising properties in which people live, such as single unit homes and condominiums. They only appraise properties that house one to four units.
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.
Although appraisers and assessors of real estate work in offices, they may spend a large part of their time conducting site visits to assess properties. Time spent away from the office depends on the specialty. For example, residential appraisers tend to spend less time on office work than commercial appraisers, who might spend up to several weeks analyzing information and writing reports on one property. Appraisers who work for banks and mortgage companies generally spend most of their time inside the office, making site visits only when necessary.
How to become an Appraiser or Assessor
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 and assessors of residential or commercial property must have at least a bachelor’s degree to obtain certification. The entry-level state license category typically does not require a bachelor’s degree. Check with your state's licensing board for specific requirements for both assessors and appraisers.
Although requirements may vary by state, certified appraisers and assessors of residential or commercial property usually need 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.
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.
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.
The median annual wage for appraisers and assessors of real estate was $57,010 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,160, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,540.
Employment of appraisers and assessors of real estate is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Demand for appraisal services is linked to the real estate market, which can fluctuate in the short term. Over the long term, employment growth will be driven by economic expansion and population increases—factors that generate demand for property.
Similar Job Titles
Appraiser, Assessor, Commercial Appraiser, County Assessor, Deputy Assessor, Field Appraiser, Personal Property Appraiser, Real Property Appraiser, Residential Appraiser, Tax Assessor, Certified Real Estate Appraiser, Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser, Commercial Real Estate Appraiser, Real Estate Appraiser, Real Property Appraiser, Residential Fee Appraiser, Residential Real Estate Appraiser, Staff Appraiser, Valuation Consultant
Claims Examiners - Property and Casualty Insurance; Insurance Adjuster, Examiners and Investigators; City and Regional Planning Aides; Real Estate Broker; Tax Examiners and Collectors – Revenue Agents; Real Estate Agent
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Society of Appraisers - This organization’s mission is to foster the public trust of our members and the appraisal profession through compliance with the highest levels of ethical and professional standards.
- American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers - ASFMRA is the premier organization for rural property professionals, focused on advancing the standards of the disciplines we represent through an unparalleled level of expertise and integrity. We empower our members to provide best-in-class service with an invaluable balance of education, accreditation and support. Students may want to check out the association’s Young Professional Network.
- International Association of Assessing Officers - IAAO is a nonprofit, educational, and research association. It is a professional membership organization of government assessment officials and others interested in the administration of the property tax.
- National Association of Realtors - Our membership is composed of residential and commercial brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others engaged in the real estate industry. For students interested in a career in this field, check out the website’s Education and Professional Development.
- Appraisal Institute - This institute’s mission is to advance professionalism and ethics, global standards, methodologies, and practices through the professional development of property economics worldwide.
When property is being sold, bought, or evaluated for a loan or estate, someone who does not have an interest in the transaction must consider its value. A real estate appraiser provides that objective analysis. The appraiser inspects the property, considers its location, and does research. He or she might interview people who have a connection to the property, and examine public records. Both the condition of the property, and recent sales of similar properties are factored into the calculation. The appraiser takes pictures of the outside and inside of the property, too. Then a written report is prepared. This is a job for people who enjoy getting away from the desk, to inspect property and conduct research. But an ability to develop a clear written report is also important. Some appraisers are salaried employees of banks, insurance companies, or other financial institutions. Others are independent contractors. For example, the heirs of a property owner might commission an appraisal when the owner dies, to re-set the value of the property for tax purposes. Some vocational schools offer courses in real estate appraisal, but most people working as appraisers have additional experience in fields that give them knowledge that helps them evaluate property. For example, it helps to know about building and construction materials, or the history of a neighborhood. Real estate appraisers are licensed in most states. They take a National Uniform Appraiser Examination, which is offered monthly.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org