Appraisers and Assessors
On the Job
Appraisers and assessors estimate the value of items such as buildings, art, or antiques.
Have you ever watched the television show "Antiques Roadshow?" The show features appraisals of a variety of antiques in cities across America and the UK. People love to watch the show, especially when someone's "junk" turns out to be worth a lot of money.Sellers and buyers sometimes have very different ideas about the value of items. Insurance companies need estimates of the value of items they are covering. Mortgage companies need to know that buildings are worth as much as buyers are paying. In situations like these, people hire appraisers to determine how much items are worth because they provide unbiased estimates.
Appraisers specialize in different types of items. Some specialize in real property appraisal, which is buildings and property. Others specialize in personal property, which includes art, antiques, jewelry, machinery, and many other items. Some appraisers estimate how much businesses are worth.
Appraisers gather information about items in order to determine their value. Real property appraisers inspect buildings and the land they are on. They determine the condition of buildings and note if they have special features, such as being built in a particular architectural style. Appraisers take pictures to document what buildings look like. They search public records of sales, leases, and appraisals to determine what properties have been appraised at in the past. They also check the appraisal value of similar properties.
Personal property appraisers examine the items they are appraising. For example, if appraising a vase, they determine its condition. They examine it for cracks, repairs, and flaws. They also attempt to determine the maker of the vase by looking for identifying marks. In addition, for valuable items, appraisers attempt to verify that they are genuine rather than fake. Appraisers may consult books or computer databases to find more information about items.
Once they have gathered enough information, appraisers analyze it. In addition to analyzing the condition of buildings, real property appraisers consider other factors. For example, they evaluate where properties are located. Properties in the suburbs generally are worth more than similar properties in rural areas. In addition, appraisers consider whether recent or expected changes to neighborhoods will affect the properties. Thus, if a highway will be built next to a property, this will affect its value. Personal property appraisers evaluate the condition of the item, the maker, the rarity of the item, and other factors. After they have analyzed all this information, appraisers assign a value to items. They write reports that document how they determined the value.
Assessors work for government agencies. They do the same tasks as real property appraisers, but have additional duties. They update maps used by the city government that show the size, shape, and location of properties. They also write descriptions of each building and how the land and buildings are used. Once they have determined the value of properties, assessors use formulas to determine their property taxes. Because property owners sometimes fight their tax assessments, assessors must be prepared to explain their methods and decisions.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Establish a fair system for assessing and reviewing property.
- Determine what properties such as buildings and land are worth.
- Determine what items such as art, jewelry, boats, or equipment are worth.
- Inspect properties, take measurements, and determine architectural style.
- Inspect personal property items for defects, makers' marks, and condition.
- Take pictures to document appearance of items being appraised.
- Search public records for history of sales, leases, and appraisals.
- Evaluate condition of buildings, location, and other factors.
- Estimate the current and future value of properties and items.
- Write reports explaining how estimate of value was determined. Maintain data and records.
- Apply tax formulas to appraised value to determine property taxes.
- Explain assessed values or appraisals to homeowners. May do this at a formal hearing.
- Identify ownership of each piece of taxable property.
- Make sure properties adhere to building codes and zoning laws.
- Conduct regular reviews of property to determine any necessary changes due to construction or demolition.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Use computers.
- Analyze data or information.
- Process information.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Document and record information.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Judge the value of objects, services, or people.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials needed.
- Inspect equipment, structures, or materials.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Work with the public.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Resolve conflicts and negotiate with others.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a medium to high level of social contact. They talk to property owners, but also spend time alone analyzing information.
- Communicate with others by telephone, e-mail, and in person on a daily basis. They also write reports, letters, and memos.
- May occasionally be placed in conflict situations in which property owners may become angry or discourteous.
- Often work as part of a team. This is particularly applicable to assessors.
- Work outdoors when examining properties. Work indoors when researching records and writing reports.
- Often travel to properties in an enclosed vehicle, such as a car, truck, or van.
- May work close to others, such as when sharing work space.
- Must fully complete and be exact in their work. Errors could cause property owners to pay too much tax.
- Make decisions that impact homeowners and their company's reputation. This occurs on a daily basis. Appraisers and assessors usually do not consult a supervisor first before deciding a course of action.
- Work in a competitive atmosphere where strict daily and weekly deadlines must be met.
- Repeat the same physical and mental tasks throughout the workday.
- Usually work full time as an assessor. May work part time or full time as an appraiser.
- May work overtime to meet deadlines.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Sit while writing reports.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.