Property values in Arlington are up 18 percent on average, the county's Department of Real Estate Assessments announced Jan. 18. The rise, according to county officials, reflects high local demand for residential and commercial property in the Washington metropolitan area.
"This, overall, is very good news," said County Board member Barbara Favola. "It shows that Arlington County is a good place to live and a good investment."
County statistics state that the value of the average single-family home in Arlington is $458,200, up 24 percent from January 2004. The value of residential condominiums rose by 32 percent to an average of $307,200 and that of apartment buildings increased by 15.5 percent. Commercial property values rose by a margin of 7 percent. That category includes hotels, retail establishments and office buildings. The numbers, department director Thomas Rice said, are a sign that Arlington's real estate boom isn't slowing down, as many predicted.
"The commercial market is very healthy, but the residential market is growing much faster," Rice said. "It's the basic Adam Smith theory of supply and demand economics. In fact, there's a supply that can't meet the demand."
Real estate values began climbing, according to Rice, during the late 1990s and have since gained strength. By all accounts, he said, the market should have slowed by now.
"If past trends are any indication, this market should've plateaued a long time ago," he said. "This is the longest rising trend we've seen since the 1960s."
REAL ESTATE assessments are calculated each year at 100 percent of fair market value using standard appraisal techniques. By law, neither the County Board nor the County Manager's office can change the assessments. Property owners unhappy with the assessed value of their homes, notices of which are now being distributed in the mail, can appeal to the county's assessment department.
"People should review their assessments when they receive them in the mail, and if they think there's something our assessment hasn't taken into account, they can talk with the assessor, or they can pursue an appeal through an appeal," said Rice.
The most valuable property in Arlington, Rice said, is a private home along the Potomac River.
According to Favola, the County Board may consider a measure to reduce real estate taxes in Arlington after its Feb. 12 meeting, when it will review the proposed budget for 2005. Arlington has one of the lowest tax rates in Northern Virginia and one of the lowest total tax and fee burdens.
Elderly and disabled property owners can, a county release states, seek tax relief through a special county program. Owners 65 or older and owners who are permanently disabled are eligible if they have a gross income of $62,000 or less and assets of $240,000 or less. The program offers an exemption or a deferral of the tax.