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Assessor Terminology


Abstract – a statement of the important parts of a deed, trust deed, or other legal instrument.

Abstract of Assessment – a report compiled annually by the Assessor’s Office listing the total assets valued. The report lists the property by classification as of the assessment roll date and is filed annually with the Louisiana Tax Commission.

Abstract of Title – a compilation of abstracts of deeds, trust deeds, or other pertinent data which affects the title to a piece of real property, all bound together in chronological order, constitutes an abstract of title. It is a form of title evidence made for the purpose of title examination.

Acre – a land measure equal to 43,560 square feet (approximately 208.7 feet by 208.7 feet).

Ad Valorem Tax – a property tax levied based on the assessed value of the property.

Appraisal – an opinion and an estimate of value (of real property) based on the integrity and competence of the appraiser as well as the soundness and skill with which the available pertinent data is evaluated and processed.

Approaches to Value – systematic procedures used to determine values in real property appraisal. The most common approaches to value are the cost, income & sales comparison approaches to value.

Appurtenances – a word used in deeds, leases, etc. for the purpose of including any easements or other rights used or enjoyed with real property which are considered to be so much a part of the property they automatically pass to the grantee under the deed conveying the real property.

Arm’s Length Transaction – a sale between two unrelated parties, each of whom is reasonably knowledgeable of market conditions and under no undue pressure or influence to buy or sell.

Assess – to estimate property values for tax purposes.

Assessed Value – the value of a property according to the assessment rolls in ad valorem taxation.

Assessment Date – the date as of which the assessments for a tax year are made, in Louisiana the assessment date annually is January 1st.

Assessment Roll – a public record showing how property taxes levied are allocated among the property owners within a jurisdiction. The roll identifies each taxable parcel and all taxable personal property in the jurisdiction, the name of the owner of record, the address of the parcel or personal property owner, the assessed value of the land, improvements or personal property, and the total assessed value.

Assessment/Sales Ratio – the ratio of an assessed (or appraised) value to the sales price or adjusted sales price of a property.


Base Map – a map showing certain fundamental information such as parcel or municipality boundaries, used as a base upon which additional data (hydrology, utilities, sewer lines, etc.) can be presented; a source map.

Batture – as used in Louisiana, portions of the bed of the Mississippi River exposed at low water and covered at high water.

Block – a square or portion of a city enclosed by streets, whether it is occupied by buildings or comprised of vacant lots. In addition, blocks are often enclosed by the boundary of a subdivision.

Bond for Deed – a contract to sell real property, in which the purchase price is to be paid by the buyer to the seller in installments and in which the seller, after receiving payments of a designated sum, agrees to transfer title to the buyer. A bond for deed is not a sale in itself and title is not transferred, even when payment in full is made according to terms. A separate act of transfer is required from the seller to the buyer.


Capitalization – a mathematical method of converting income into value.

Certificate of Title – a document given to a home buyer with the deed that states the title to the property is clear. The certificate of title is usually prepared by an attorney or another qualified person who has examined the abstract of title for the property.

Comparables – similar property sales that are used for comparison in valuing properties; also referred to as “comps.”

Conveyance – the term conveyance embraces every instrument in writing by which any interest in real property is created, aliened, mortgaged, encumbered or by which the title to any real property may be affected, except wills.

Conveyance Book – a book of public record usually found in the parish Clerk of Court’s Office, containing all property transfer deeds, which have been recorded and made a matter of public record.

Cost Approach – a set of procedures that generates a value indication for a parcel by estimating the sum of the land value (that reflects the value of the site as if vacant and available to be developed to its highest and best use) and the depreciated value of the improvements (the current cost of constructing the improvements less any accrued depreciation).


Deed – a written, legal instrument that conveys an interest in real property when it is executed and delivered.

Depreciation – the loss in property value from all causes. Three causes of depreciation are economic obsolescence, functional obsolescence, and economic physical deterioration.


Easement – an interest in real property that conveys use, but not ownership, of a portion of an owner’s property.

Economic Obsolescence – loss in value of a property (relative to the cost of replacing it with a property of equal utility) as a result of impairment in utility and desirability caused by factors external to the property (outside a property’s boundaries) and is generally deemed incurable. Examples might include air and/or noise pollution, heavy traffic, zoning regulations or neighborhood decline.

Egress – a place or right to exit from a person’s property.


Fair Market Value – the price for property which would be agreed upon between a willing and informed buyer and a willing and informed seller under usual and ordinary circumstances; it shall be the highest price estimated in terms of money which property will bring if exposed for sale on the open market with reasonable time allowed to find a purchaser who is buying with knowledge of all the uses and purposes to which the property is best adapted and for which it can be legally used (as defined by Louisiana Statute 47:2321).

Fee Appraiser – an appraiser who is paid a fee for appraisal assignments he/she performs.

Foreclosure – a legal process whereby a mortgagee forces the sale of a property to recover all or part of a loan on which the mortgagor has defaulted.

Functional Obsolescence – loss in value due to inability of a structure to adequately perform the function for which it was used as of the appraisal date. Examples might include poor or inappropriate floor plans, lack of modern equipment, inadequate heating and cooling capacity or dated architecture.


Geo-reference – to connect map features to actual points on earth; usually accomplished by using a GPS (global positioning system) device.

GIS – Geographic Information System, a term that encompasses a broad field of computer software that integrates geography (where things are) and information and allows users to search data in many ways.


Highest & Best Use – the use that will generate the highest net return to a property over a period of time. Tests for highest and best use include; physically possible, legally permissible, financially feasible and maximum profitability.


IAAO – International Association of Assessing Officers.

Improvements – anything (buildings or other relatively permanent structures) attached to land with the intention of increasing its value.

Income Approach – a set of procedures that generates a value indication for an income producing parcel (multi-family residential, commercial or industrial) by converting anticipated benefits through ownership of property.

Ingress – a place or right to enter onto a person’s property. Direct capitalization converts a single year of income into value whereas yield capitalization converts several or many future year’s income into value.


Legal Description – a description of land identifying the real estate for all purposes of law; an exact description enabling the real estate to be located and identified.

Lot – a distinct, measured piece of land having fixed boundaries and designated on a plot or survey.


Mass Appraisal – the systematic appraisal of a group of properties as of a given date using standardized procedures and statistical testing.

Mile – a land measure equaling 5,280 feet.

Mill or Millage – a mill is one-thousandth of one dollar or one-tenth of one cent. In many states the ad valorem tax rate is expressed as a millage. For example, a 5 percent tax rate is $5 per $100, $50 per $1000, or 50 mills per dollar.

Millage Totals – a report compiled annually by the Assessor’s Office listing the total ad valorem taxes levied by each taxing jurisdiction in the parish; also referred to as the “grand recap.”


Parcel – a contiguous area of land described by a single legal description or as one of a number of lots on a plat, capable of being conveyed by a single legal description.

Parcel Number – a numerical code representing a parcel’s legal description and used in maintaining a parcel database. Can be identified with or tied to a jurisdiction’s mapping system; for example a parcel number could be comprised of ward, map and parcel numbers.

Personal Property – all property other than real property; it is not permanently attached and is, therefore, movable.

Physical Deterioration – loss in value due to wear and tear and the forces of nature.

Plat – a map intended to show the division of land into lots or parcels.


Quitclaim Deed – a type of deed where a grantor (a person with ownership interest) transfers all interests he or she has in a property without warranty of title.


Real Property – all the interests, rights, benefits and encumbrances inherent in the ownership of physical real estate, where real estate is the land together with all improvements that are permanently affixed to it.

Residential Lessee – a person who owns and occupies a residence including mobile homes, but does not own the land in which the residence in situated.

Revaluation – the mass appraisal of all property within an assessment jurisdiction accomplished within or at the beginning of a revaluation cycle. The revaluation cycle in Louisiana is every four years; 2016 is the next revaluation year in Louisiana.

Recording – the filing of a copy of a legal document or instrument such as a deed or mortgage with the local parish Clerk of Court’s Office. This recording creates a public record of the document protecting all concerned parties and gives constructive notice to the public at large.


Sales Comparison Approach – a set of procedures that generates a value for a parcel by referencing comparable sales and developing appropriate units of comparison. Comparable sales must be identified, verified as an indication of market value and then adjusted (using appropriate units of comparison) to a subject property. Most preferred method of valuation because it mirrors actual market conditions.

Section – in the public land survey system of land description, one of the 36 sections, each one mile square or 640 acres, into which each township is divided.

Servitude – a private right held by a person or group to use real property owned by another party or to limit the use of real property owned by another party. Examples of servitudes may include utility servitudes, drainage servitudes, and servitudes of passage.

Sheriff’s Sale – a sale of real or personal property conducted by a parish Sheriff’s Office to satisfy an unpaid collateralized financial obligation.

Situs – in real estate, the physical location of a property; in personal property, the taxable location because personal property may be moved from one place to another.

Square Mile – a land measure equaling 640 acres.


Tax Levy – in property taxation, the total revenue that will be realized by a tax.

Tax Lien – a lien that is automatically attached to property in the amount of its unpaid taxes.

Tax Sale – a sale of real or personal property conducted by a parish Sheriff’s Office to satisfy an unpaid ad valorem tax obligation.

Taxing Jurisdiction – a political subdivision within an assessment district having the authority to levy taxes.

Title – the combination of all elements constituting proof of ownership; the legal instrument or document that is evidence of ownership.

Township – in the public land survey system of land description, a division of land equaling 36 square miles. Townships are bounded by two successive Range Lines on the east and west and two successive Township Lines on the north and south.


USPAP – Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, the current standards of the appraisal profession.

Unimproved Land – vacant land or land that lacks the essential improvements required to make it useful.

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