Residential Field Appraiser Facts
The Harris County Appraisal District’s residential field staff is engaged in various appraisal projects throughout the year. Each project has a basic goal of verifying property characteristics, external influences, and other data. This information is used in the appraisal of property as of January 1st of each year. Correct data is essential to developing accurate estimates of value; therefore, field inspections conducted by our appraisers play a very important part in the process.
Each HCAD appraiser works from his or her own personal vehicle, which has a magnetic sign identifying the appraiser as a Harris County Appraisal District employee. The residential appraiser wears a blue vest or jacket with the HCAD emblem on the front and the words HCAD APPRAISER on the back. The appraiser also carries an identification badge with his or her picture, name, and unique appraiser number.
Appraisers are required to enter changes in property characteristics directly to a field device, and most do so while sitting in their vehicle. Their vehicle is essentially their mobile office. Below are the various field projects and detailed descriptions of the type of project we may be performing in your neighborhood.
In most projects, the appraiser will knock on the front door, identify themselves as an HCAD appraiser, and ask permission to measure the home and any other structures on the property. If access is denied, the appraiser will leave the property and estimate the size and characteristics from the street. If the property owner is not home, the appraiser will measure the sections of the structures that are accessible without entering a gate.
To verify that the individual working in your neighborhood is actually a HCAD appraiser, please feel free to contact our office at 713-812-5800.
Our appraisers inspect neighborhoods and individual properties to observe changes in neighborhood condition, trends and property characteristics. By law, we must continually update property characteristic data to reflect changes brought about by new construction, new parcels, remodeling, demolition, and other changes. We receive information on the location of building activity through building permits from the cities and county, fire reports, data mailers, and other sources. During a new construction inspection project, an appraiser will inspect only those with identified changes. Depending on the volume of construction activity, you might see one or more appraisers working in your area for the entire day or for just a short time.
The appraiser physically inspects properties that have sold, typically within the last 18 months. The purpose of the inspection is to verify the accuracy of our data about the sales transaction information and the characteristics of the property. The appraiser usually does not visit every home on the street, only those with recent sales activity. Depending on the volume of sales activity, you might see an appraiser working in your area for the entire day or for just a short time.
Whether or not it sells or has new construction, we try to inspect every residential property in Harris County once every four to six years. The two projects below are related to this periodic inspection. During a reinspection project it is likely you will see an appraiser in your neighborhood for several days.
1. Driving Review:
A driving review is a general inspection of property to ensure that our property records are accurate. The appraiser’s responsibility is to verify the accuracy of property data for every property within a neighborhood. The appraiser generally does so from the appraiser's vehicle. This project is carried out in conjunction with the field reinspection project described below. If the appraiser determines that a property needs a closer look during the driving review the appraiser will assign it to the field reinspection project for an on-site inspection.
2. Field Reinspection:
The appraiser will conduct an on-site inspection of properties in the neighborhood to verify characteristics and neighborhood condition. It is typical for the appraiser to visit most, if not all, of the properties on a street.