Assessor vs. Appraiser: What’s the Difference?
Assessors are local government officials who estimate the taxable value of real property within a county, city, town, or village's boundaries. In addition to valuing property, assessors inspect new construction and major improvements to existing structures to ensure accurate property descriptions and valuations, approve and track property tax exemptions, attend all public grievance hearings of the Board of Assessment Review and present evidence in support of the municipality's assessments, and review real estate sale data for accuracy.
A real property appraiser is a person other than an assessor who is employed either by a local government or private entity and is assigned professional appraisal duties relating to the assessment of real property for purposes of taxation and/or valuation. An appraiser gives an estimate of the value of real estate property before it’s sold, taxed, mortgaged, insured, or developed.
License vs. Certification
In New York State, the Department of State issues licenses. A license gives the holder legal authority to work in an occupation, such as appraisal. The New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS) certifies assessors. Certification is earned by taking a combination of required courses that are offered through the New York State Assessors Association (NYSAA) and the Office of Real Property Tax Services.
In New York State, appraisers must be licensed. Assessors must be certified.
Training, Basic Certification, and Continuing Education
Anyone in New York State who wishes to become an appointed assessor, county director, and/or a real property appraiser must satisfy certain minimum qualification standards.
Most assessors must receive basic certification within three years of taking office. This requires the successful completion of several specific courses regarding assessment administration and the valuation of real estate. Certified assessors are required to become re-certified within a year of re-election or re-appointment to office by completing an approved ethics training. A certificate is awarded after the basic certification training program is successfully completed.
In addition, appointed assessors and sole elected assessors are required to fulfill ongoing continuing education requirements. An average of 12 continuing education credits are required to be completed each year by certified appointed and sole elected assessors and certified county directors of real property tax services.
NYSAA and the NYS Office of Real Property Tax Services offer the courses needed to complete the basic certification requirements to be an assessor, which include Fundamentals of Assessment Administration; Ethics; Cost, Market and Income Approach to Value (Application of the Three Approaches to Value); Fundamentals of Data Collection; and Fundamentals of Mass Appraisal. Introduction to Farm Appraisal is required for assessors in certain assessing units. All others may choose one of the following electives: Commercial / Industrial Valuation or Fundamentals of Forest Valuation.
All real estate appraisers and assistants are required to successfully complete 28 hours of approved appraiser continuing education courses.
Department of State credits (DOS credits) are required only for licensed individuals. DOS credits are not needed to maintain assessor certification.
All courses offered by NYSAA (unless otherwise noted) will provide assessors with credit hours that they can use toward their continuing education. However, when a class offered by NYSAA says “DOS Approved,” that means licensed real estate appraisers can use those classroom credits towards their continuing education for license renewal, as well as continuing education for assessors.
Reminder: New York State will not reimburse or give credits for any class taken twice within a three-year period.