Assessments Moving on Up?

Assessments Moving on Up?

Comparing sale prices to tax assessments.

Each year, homeowners are loath to receive their county real estate tax assessment. Is the assessment too high; is it accurate? These are some of the first questions that come to mind.

The assessments, which take effect Jan. 1 of each year, are based on the sales of similar properties during the preceding 12 to 18 months from when they take effect.

Virginia law mandates that the county uniformly assess homes based on 100 percent of fair market value. For residential properties, market value is indicated by valid sales transactions of similar properties. If sufficient sales were not available in the home’s neighborhood, the county may base the assessment on sales of similar homes in other neighborhoods.

But compare a home’s sales price and its assessment, and it will rarely be a match, mostly because the market’s always moving.

The homes pictured were all sold late last year.

Based on the county’s goal of ensuring each taxpayer “bears his/her share of the real property tax burden,” the county’s 2006 assessment for each of these four homes is likely to look a lot different.