The Douglas County, Kansas appraiser told me that he wants to be slightly less than market value on all homes, just to keep homeowners happy when they sell. They'd hate to learn that they were paying more than their fair share of real estate taxes when it came time to sell. Lawrence sales were appreciating steadily at 5 to 8% from 2000 until 2007. The general market reached a point where supply exceeded demand, especially in certain neighborhoods and price zones, and the Douglas County appraiser dropped price valuations 2 to 4%. In a volatile market, a real estate professional can assess and evaluate a home's true market value and County valuations for tax purposes are useful as general guidelines -- particularly when used in groups to look at a neighborhood or block.
Individual homes may vary in value due to the time of ownership, condition, and feature characteristics. IN Lawrence, home values can change extraordinarily from the house next door -- it's part of the charm of a college town -- a million dollar home may be next to a $200,000 rental house.
Final answer: Generally the valuations for tax purposes are slightly less than market value. Don't use County appraisals as absolute figures -- there are too many variables to consider!
Sean Williams, Realtor; Realty Executives-Hedges Real Estate, Inc