Any licensed appraiser will tell you the craft is a combination of art and science. You can hire three different appraisers to appraise the same property, without the benefit of a sales price or owner’s estimate of value, and get three different results.

Similar, but different nonetheless. Not so much when theappraised values properties are almost identical in terms of square footage and amenities such as condos or town homes, but more appropriately as it relates to single family homes. There are too many potential adjustments an appraiser must account for. These adjustments can range from an upgraded kitchen to an unobstructed view of the mountains. Then add a dash of opinion and you can see why values can vary. Knowing this, you can use an appraisal to either lower or inflate the value of a home.

Lowering the Price

Why would you want to lower the value on your properties? Surely not when it’s time to sell but when it’s nearing time to pay property taxes. The county assessor doesn’t physically inspect each property but uses local real estate data to make an estimate. This value comes to you once per year and if the appraised value, in the assessor’s mind anyway, is higher, so are your taxes. If you want to pay less tax, hire an appraiser to perform a full appraisal. If indeed the assessor overvalued your property, an independent appraisal can be used to protest the higher value thus higher taxes.

Raising the Price

In this instance, you want to raise the price to meet the sales price of your home. When selling, especially in an overheated market, it can be difficult to find supporting comps. Or, the appraiser simply makes a mistake and needs to readjust. A lower value can also be made when there is a sale made not known by the appraiser. Appraisers use public records as well as the local multiple listing service to search for closed deals. There are times when a transaction, often an all-cash deal, isn’t readily known. Your real estate agent can help track down any transactions that fall into this category.

Because the appraisal is indeed a combination of art and science, the data can be viewed differently by different people. The very same data can provide two, or three, different results.