KEYS TO BUYING A HOUSE IN 2012
Check out the County Tax Appraisal records.
If the house had problems and the owner/seller protested the value, they may have left clues about the reasons for their devaluation. Any significant variance downward in the value is a red flag to follow up on.
Look at the ownership record under the deed history. When did your seller buy the house? What was the appraisal value when they bought the house?
If you have a significant dip in the value of the house, ask the sellers what caused that reduction. Dig as much as you need to. Ask the sellers if they provided any photographs to the Appraisal Board. A typical appraisal reduction is based on some type of damage to the house, significant deterioration or some adverse effect on the neighborhood like a new freeway to be built or the like. The seller had to provide some backup for their claimed need for a reduction and you should ask for the supporting documents.
You can also try the appraisal board by using an open records request, but they may or may not accommodate you promptly.