The Duties of an Assessor

Many mistakenly think that assessors set tax rates, but they do not; they just determine taxable value.
Many mistakenly think that assessors set tax rates, but they do not; they just determine taxable value. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Assessors are either appointed or elected officials, depending on where you live. They usually serve for a term of six years. An assessor's main responsibility is to assess real property value periodically, usually every two years. This includes residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural property. The assessor's responsibilities regarding this evaluation are more detailed than simply setting a dollar value to a property. Assessors must establish effective systems for assessing property, manage data collection and retention, maintain a current knowledge base about real estate prices and trends, and handle assessment appeals.

Establish a System

The assessor is the one who puts together the system for assessing each different type of property, whether it be commercial or residential. These systems allow for uniform assessments within each category of property, and decrease the likelihood that the owner of a property will win an appeal.

Collect and Retain Data

A large part of an assessor's responsibility is maintaining records. She is responsible for completing and maintaining assessment rolls that show the assessed values and status of all property in a county or municipality. The assessor also must keep current records of the owners of each taxable land parcel and keep detailed records on each parcel she assesses, including maps of property boundaries, inventories of land and structures, and a list of property characteristics.

Maintain a Knowledge Base

An assessor must stay current on local real estate market trends. He must remain familiar with and analyze trends in home prices, construction costs and rents. This information is always changing, and without this detailed knowledge the assessor will not be able to accurately evaluate property values in the area.

Handle Appeals

Once a property is evaluated by an assessor and an appraised value has been set, the owner of the property has the right to appeal the appraised value if he thinks it is too low or too high. The appraised value can affect both your resale value and your real estate taxes. The assessor must attend a public hearing to defend the appealed assessment and explain the assessed value in detail.

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