Appraisers usually use “comparable sales” when evaluating the market value of a home. They look at nearby properties with similar characteristics, which have sold in the recent past to see at what price they sold. They typically give the most weight to the property they deem to be most like the property they are appraising.
Buyers and sellers generally encounter appraisals when the buyer’s lender has an appraiser make an evaluation of the market value of the property being sold. The lender wants to be sure of the value of the collateral for the loan. An interesting feature that comes into play in this situation is that one indication of value is at what price two unrelated parties will agree to buy and sell the same property. In other words, what is the contract price the seller and buyer of this property agreed on (if they are not relatives).
An assessment is the value your local government puts on your property for the purpose of taxing it. How this value is derived varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some communities say the value is the same as market value. Some say the value is a percentage of market value. Some appear to actually do what they say they do, and some do not.Many jurisdictions will “puff up” assessments for businesses and investors and “low ball” assessments for people who have lived in their homes for a long time. Sometimes there are formulas for doing this. “Land use” is one such concept, i.e., the property is taxed at its value as a farm and the fact that it is ripe for dense residential and commercial development is ignored or deferred. Sometimes there are no formulas. It is just done.
For these reasons, it is usually not a good idea to put too much credence in the assessed value of a property when you are trying to figure out market value. They may be the same. They may be vastly different.