You have two options. Get another appraisal and before you pay them have them look up the comps to give you an off the record ball park estimate. The spreads are so far apart that that it shoudl at least give you a general idea. The secoend thought is to contest what the county has it assessed at so at least you can lower your property tax liability if you plan to hold it.
It sounds like you got taken by this appraiser. He should have contacted you prior to even going out to the house to let you know that he was not going to even come close to getting you value. I would contact a completely different appraisal company and order another appraisal. Let them know that you would like them to pull some comps prior to visiting the property to give you a ballpark figure on value. However I will also say this it looks like from the values you posted that this property may have been way over-valued over the last couple of years as property values skyrocketed and now it is settling in to its real value. Although a 60% drop in value over two years is pretty hard to believe.
Is the county’s figure on the tax asessment an actual appraisal? I often find the tax assessed value is much lower than the appraised value. I think it has more to do with people doing renovations without permits. If they don’t know what’s been done to the house, they can’t tax them on the improvements.
Thankfully the assessed value is the value established for tax purposes only. It is not an an estimate of actual resale value. An Appraisal includes a full review of recent home sales of similar properties and current sale value.
While it may be true that tax assessments do not include recent upgrades or repairs it should always be less than the resale value. If not you need to contact the county and have it reviewed.
A comp from 1985? He obviously didn’t determine if the sales were arm’s-length, nor did he verify any of them. It looks like some foreclosures or something. Even still, that’s a wide range in comps. What is your neighborhood like and how would you explain range in comps? I don’t expect an appraiser to give me a preliminary value, but he should call if the value is going to be drastically different.
What it looks like to me is that the 1985 sale was for a vacant lot. The owner held it for several years and then sold it again to builder who then put improvements i.e. a house on the lot and then sold it again in 2003. Then the property value jumped as the real estate bubble started growing, and now it is settling in at its real value.