How do I know if my home appraisal is accurate?
UPDATED: February 20, 2013
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A home appraisal should be accurately calculated so that fair and reasonable taxes can be collected from the homeowner. A key principle of property taxation is the taxpayer's right to equal and fair property appraisal, which means that no class of property should be over or undervalued in relation to similar properties within a similar area. But it is also up to the individual property owners, often with the help of an attorney who specializes in taxation appraisals, to monitor the accuracy of their home appraisal. It is also up to a taxpayer to take advantage of all available exemptions, which will relieve payment of a property appraisal.
Many states also allow some flexibility between the amount of a home appraisal and the estimated market value of the property.
How can a property appraisal be verified?
You can visit the appraiser's office to review information on similar sales and verify that the information the appraiser's office has on your property is correct.
It may be wise to become familiar with the assessor’s office and the ways it calculates a home or property appraisal. For example, many states use two different values: a full cash value (FCV) and a limited property value (LPV). The FCV is the market value, and is used to pay for secondary taxes (such as bonds, flood control, and parks). These secondary taxes tend to be lower than primary taxes, but are calculated against a higher value. The LPV is used to pay for primary taxes, such as county taxes, school districts, and colleges.
Can I verify a home appraisal by examining the values of similar properties?
Assessors attempt to be consistent in their property appraisal determinations. Accuracy helps to avoid complaints from taxpayers, who can challenge a home appraisal before Boards of Equalization or local tax appeal officers. Failing to be accurate can also cost governments their share of state collected revenues.
If a neighbor has a similar house for sale, the sale price may also give you an indication of the value of your house. In addition, real estate professionals can provide information about market conditions that can offer insight into your property appraisal. There are also on-line tools to check out similar property values. Arizona’s Assessor services, for example, provide a “Residential Similar Property Search” tool at their online site, which can help Arizona residents verify the accuracy of a property appraisal.