Purpose – Despite its popularity in practice, sales comparison is constantly criticized as subjective and even relegated to the least recommended method by some scholars. This paper aims to examine the validity of the above statement. Design/methodology/approach – A number of statistical techniques have been proposed to improve the objectivity of the sales comparison approach. In contrast, property valuation can also be seen as an exercise of human problem solving with respect to market information. As a result, the approach of a controlled experiment is employed. Findings – First, experienced appraisers tend to adopt an appraisal process that significantly differs from that specified in legal standards. Second, appraisers have developed a specific-to-general information inquiry path. Third, appraisers are likely to stop examining additional sales evidence early when the appraised subject is a typical product. Fourth, appraisers have a tendency to weigh the comparables that come to their attention earlier more heavily than those that come later. Finally, despite the different strategies of information absorption, value variations among appraisers are consistent between different residential properties. The evidence, taken together, strongly suggests that professional appraisers have developed some heuristics or short-cuts in digesting information relevant to appraisal. Originality/value – This study is one of the very few that examine appraisers' decision making in Taiwan.