I have to agree with my colleagues here, public record is not an accurate reflection of actual MARKET value of a property. Tax assessment values are determined only to create a working financial equation so the municipality can pay the bills of running itself.
Does that make sense?? I hope you can find a good agent who can help you figure out the best way to move forward on any transaction. You don't pay the agent commission out of YOUR pocket, so why not have an expert who is working on your behalf??
Is your objective to waste your time, or to buy the house?
A Realtor can do a CMA to determine the Market Value of the property.
Sure, you'd like to pay 50 cents on the dollar; but that isn't going to happen.
Which is losing out on a home you really like over an incorrect valuation. I see it happen all the time, and in the end it simply delays the time to buy and can create frustration. Unless the seller is FSBO you should be ok to use a Realtor.
Truly, the best way to proceed is talk to your real estate agent and allow him/her to guide you in the process of putting together a strong offer and negotiations. A real estate agent also has a lot more information at their fingertips that extends far beyond public record.
Best wishes to you!
The MN Mortgage Mom