Robert MacHarrie, Real Estate Agent
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Appraisal versus Assessment

by Robert MacHarrie 05/05/2019

Home valuation is one of the tricky areas of real estate. In general, you want a high appraisal and a low assessment. But shouldn't they be the same? Well, in a perfect world your assessment and your appraisal would be the same, but you don't want the world to be perfect in this regard. Here's why:

Appraisal

An appraised value comes from the report completed by a licensed professional appraiser to determine property value at a specific point, typically for a buyer to obtain a mortgage. It is a tool used by underwriters for lenders to determine if the home has enough collateral for the loan needed to purchase or refinance it.

Appraisers compare the home to similar properties in their evaluation. They look for both similarities to find a base value and difference to increase or decrease the value such as the roof's age, livable square footage, exterior materials, upgrades, and other finished. Using these numbers and other valuation formulae such as the cost to rebuild the home (similar to your homeowner insurance values), and potential income from rental or other uses, the appraiser determines a possible value.

The market value is not the same as the appraised value, however. While it starts with the appraised value, other determiners such as the desirability of the area, or circumstances such as a tornado, hurricane, or eminent domain issues may adjust the market value above or below the appraised value.

Assessment

A home's assessed value typically comes from the taxing authority for the municipality. It is the method of determining the tax basis (or valuation) of the property. The tax assessment is a percentage of that value that the homeowner pays annually to provide the municipality money for water and fire services, schools, capital improvements to roads, bridge, and public parks and additional essential services.

The amount of the percentage and its designations differ for every taxing authority, so a home in one neighborhood might have a different assessed value from an identical house in another block nearby if the boundary lines for the taxing authority (school district, for example) differs.Some counties and cities reassess homes only when they sell, while others have periodic assessments. And the percentage rates of the assessments change when voters approve various tax levies for a variety of purposes.

An appraisal affects your ability to obtain a mortgage for your home while an assessment relates to the ongoing yearly tax expenses. Since a third factor determines the home's selling price, the market value, your professional realtor should guide your understanding of how these factors affect your home purchase or sale.

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