If you’re a homeowner in Riley County, Anna Burson wants to talk to you.

Burson took over as Riley County appraiser in May. Burson said she relishes the variety she’s found in appraising, from going outdoors in the field to look at properties, to sketching the homes for appraisals, to statistical analysis. Burson also said she’s a “people person” who wants to make sure people feel comfortable asking questions about their homes.

“If you don’t understand where your value came from, come in and talk to us,” Burson said.

Burson lived in three other states growing up before settling in the Wichita area, following her father, who was in the Air Force. She received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Wichita State University, but in looking for stability for her daughters, ages 12 and 9, she eventually took a job doing data entry. Before becoming the Riley County appraiser, Burson was deputy county appraiser for Cowley County and a senior residential appraiser for Sedgwick County.

Burson said she learned late that graphic design wasn’t for her after all.

“I didn’t want to be told what I had to do artwise,” she said.

Once she entered the world of appraising, she realized it was a good fit for her. Burson said she never expected to use so much math in her career, but she’s learned to love the industry.

“The more I dug into it the more I enjoyed,” she said.

Burson said she’s a detail-oriented person and connected with the detailed industry of appraisal. She said she liked examining the details required to sketch the houses and take the measurements. She said she also enjoys how appraising allows her to use her art background and math skills she has developed more fully with time in the field.

“You have to draw all those houses,” she said. “It helped me with perspective and understanding as you’re walking around that house exactly how you need to sketch it. It made my job so much easier.”

Burson said appraising stuck because she could see it would set her on a path. She said she felt someone like her could grow from data entry to appraising to leading an appraising office.

“I knew there was a path and a future,” she said.

It also made her part of a team, which Burson said is an aspect she enjoys. She said she tries to lead by example and enjoys training new employees.

“I like to share what I know,” she said. “If I can help somebody understand something complicated, then I’ve done my job.”

As she takes on the role of Riley County appraiser, she said she also wants to connect with homeowners in the community. She said sometimes people will come in upset about the appraised value of their home, and she wants to have those conversations to explain where their numbers came from and listen to the public’s concerns.

“Sometimes people come in mad, and they just want to be heard,” Burson said. “I’m always here to listen.”

Burson said there are some common misconceptions about the appraisal process, like that the appraised value is always supposed to be less than what the owner paid for it or that the appraiser’s office sets the property taxes. Rather, they look at the home and estimate what it would sell for in the housing market based on sales in the area, a number later used by others to calculate property taxes.

She said talking to homeowners can not only help them understand more about the appraisal process but also help appraisers correct errors they might have made.

“If somebody pays $100,000 for their property and we had it valued at $80,000, a lot of times we’re missing a piece of information about the property in some cases,” Burson said.

As she transitions into Riley County, Burson knows she has big shoes to fill. Former county appraiser Greg McHenry died in February, and Burson said McHenry set the bar high as a leader in the industry.

“It was a huge loss felt, honestly across the world, because he was very involved in the international association,” she said. “To be able to have this opportunity behind Greg was huge.”

Burson said she is enjoying exploring Manhattan, like the shopping, food and especially the scenery. When her daughters arrived in Manhattan, one of their first stops was Bluemont Hill.

“The smiles on their faces like, ‘There’s hills in Kansas?’” she said. “I love the natural beauty.”

Recommended for you