Real estate appraisers and inspectors are commonly confused with each other because both are used to assess houses; however each has different reasons and methods for their assessment. The confusion is caused by the fact that many lenders will call an appraisal an "inspection" because for them, the appraiser is recording everything that they need to know about the house, including the condition of the house. The actual inspector is oriented toward the buyer/seller of a house, letting them know if anything is physically wrong with the house. The difference, put simply, is that a real estate appraiser determines the value of the property, whereas the home inspector determines the condition of the structure.
An appraiser is a licensed or certified professional who takes a look at the condition of the house, the surrounding environments, and the prices of neighboring houses in order to decide how much the client's house is worth. Appraisers will typically only focus on one house at a time, giving a detailed report at the end with their findings and the methodology that they used to determine their results. It is also worth noting that different appraisers will almost never come to the same final value for a home, and so it could be of use for a buyer or seller of a home to get a second opinion.
An inspector, on the other hand, is a person who inspects the house and its different systems and components, and then reports their findings back to the client. An inspector must be licensed in a number of states, but not in all of them. The inspection will cover most of the house, including the roof, basement, heating system, water heater, air-conditioning system, structure, plumbing, and electrical. This is not an exhaustive search, however, and a number of different areas are usually left out, such as code or zoning violations, property boundaries, sewer lines/waste disposal, and piping. If you are a potential buyer, you should almost always have the potential purchase inspected in order to make sure nothing comes as a surprise after you buy the house.
Both of these professions are very important to the housing market and the differences and similarities between the two should be understood by anyone involved in the sale of a property. Hopefully you now understand those differences and are better equipped to navigate the confusing housing market landscape.