A reassessment is the process by which the assessed value of real estate property is revised to keep the value consistent with what the property is worth on the open market, and to assess properties fairly in comparison to each other.
It is required by Code of Virginia § 58.1-3252:
There shall be a general reassessment of real estate every four years. Any county which, however, has a total population of 50,000 or less may elect by majority vote of its board of supervisors to conduct its general reassessments at either five-year or six-year intervals. Nothing in this section shall affect the power of any county to use the annual or biennial assessment method as authorized by law.
Property’s assessments are intended to reflect market values at the time of reassessment. Between reassessment periods market values change. The value changes may happen for a variety of reasons: appreciation and value declines (i.e., equalization changes); structural changes (additions, remodeling), re-zonings, and land divisions (i.e., growth). A combination of these factors can apply to the same property. Reassessments are intended to restore equity within the county so that values are at a uniform percentage of market value.
Why reassess now?
Based on Fauquier County's current population, the Code of Virginia requires Fauquier County to reassess a minimum of every 4 years. The prior reassessment went into effect on January 1, 2014. The results of the current reassessment took effect January 1, 2018 and will be in effect until January 1, 2022.
The reassessment process is very labor and time intensive. The entire process takes between 12 and 18 months to perform and requires that an appraiser physically visit and assess every parcel in the County. Fauquier County contracts a mass appraisal firm to do the real estate reassessment since internally performing a reassessment would require additional full-time staff and resources.
After a bidding process, Fauquier County awarded the mass appraisal firm, Wampler-Eanes Appraisal Group LTD of Daleville, Virginia, the contract to perform the 2018 Reassessment. Wampler-Eanes will visit and examine each property, then update the assessed values in keeping with the fair market value.
The contract for the mass appraisal is limited to the completion and establishment of the values.
An appraiser will arrive at your property in a vehicle clearly marked as “County Reassessment” and will have an official identification badges issued by Fauquier County. Upon arrival, the appraiser will approach your house for an introduction. They will briefly explain their purpose for being at your property, and how they would like to conduct the inspection. The appraiser will not come into your house.
The appraiser may conduct a brief interview with you asking questions such as
- How many bedrooms and baths are there in the house?
- What type of flooring do you have?
- How old is the house?
- Have any additions been built?
- Has there been any remodeling done?
- Have you recently purchased the property?
(If the property has been recently purchased, the appraiser may ask sales related questions.)
After speaking with you, the appraiser will measure and inspect the exterior property, and document any changes that have been made since the last property assessment. They will also take pictures of the front and back of your residence, and may take pictures of any additional structures on the property. Pictures serve as proof that an appraiser inspected your property, and as visuals aids if you have a hearing.
If no one is at home, the appraiser will proceed with the inspection of your property. At the end of the inspection, they will leave a door hanger stating that they have been to your property, and whether they need further information about the property. Contact information is provided on the hanger.
- Sales Price
Actual amount paid by a buyer for a property or group of properties.
Detailed private sector single-property valuation obtained anytime throughout the year. It can be used for a wide range of purposes such as a mortgage, plan to sell, home equity loan, or estate valuation. An internal inspection and a complete individual market analysis of the subject property and comparable sold properties are generally required. Equity within a neighborhood is not considered.
Mass appraisal of property for tax purposes in which properties are valued by analyzing the property sales within defined like areas and by applying those values to homes similar to the ones that sold. In Fauquier County, approximately 34,250 parcels will be reviewed and assessed during a 12-18 month period. Equity is a primary consideration.
- Sales Price
Mass appraisal techniques are used to value similar groups of commercial, industrial, residential, agricultural, or other properties. When grouping similar properties, the appraisers take into consideration such things as comparable sales, rental income/expense information, location, condition, and economic factors. Sales information is gathered from recorded deeds, buyers, sellers, real estate professionals, and the selling prices are compared to the assessed values to determine an assessment/sales ratio. Property values are adjusted to match current market and cost data in an equitable manner.
This is where the assessed value is based on the reasonably probable use that produces the highest property value. Highest and best use assumes only those uses which are legally, physically, and financially feasible for the property – and may or may not be the current use of the property. For example, if a residence is located in a commercially zoned area and the value as a commercial property in that area exceeds the value of a residential property in that same area, then the overall highest and best use of the property would be as a commercial property.
A “Home Site” is all or part of a parcel that is best suited for single family residential construction. Applying the concept of “highest and best use”, this part of the land parcel is worth significantly more than the residual acreage. Properties of 20 acres or less are each assessed with a 1 acre or less home site (unless the property is unbuildable or landlocked, or the existing home is large enough to require more than 1 acre). Home site values are generally uniform within a neighborhood (areas with similar characteristics), assuming land parcels to be similar in size.
As an example, if a citizen owns a ¼ acre lot, and this is the approximate standard lot size within the neighborhood, then all home site assessments within that neighborhood are likely to be uniform. However, if most properties within the neighborhood have 1 acre home sites, and one property has only a ¼ acre lot, the ¼ acre lot will be assessed as home site with a lower assessed value than the larger 1 acre home sites.
It is worth noting that the differential in size between the standard home site does not usually equate to the same differential in assessment. For example, if a parcel within a neighborhood is 25% larger than all the other parcels in the neighborhood, that parcel will not usually be assessed 25% higher than other parcels in the neighborhood.
Once a home site value is assessed, the residual acreage (any acreage over and above the home site) is assigned a per-acre value—this is also uniform among similar locations. The values assigned for home sites and residual acreage are based on a sales-ratio analysis performed during the reassessment process. The outcome of this analysis establishes the baseline market values.
Although home site values tend to be standard within a neighborhood, other considerations such as topography, location, or accessibility can contribute to variations in individual home site valuations.
Unlike most single family residential property, commercial property is often rented out by the owners and operated as an investment. For this reason, commercial and multifamily real estate is often marketed as investment property. Investors will weigh the income potential, vacancy rates, risk levels and expenses to operate the property as a rental to determine what they should pay for the property and still earn a rate of return that is competitive with other types of investments in the current market.
While the appraisal of residential real estate relies most heavily on cost and the market approaches to determine value, the appraisal of commercial real estate relies on cost, market, and income approaches with the income approach often given the most weight. The income approach considers the ability of the property to earn income through rents, taking into account the operating expenses and allowing for vacancy and collection losses. The resulting net operating income is then capitalized into value with an appropriate rate to achieve a fair market value estimate. Collecting this information from a broad range of commercial properties enables the Reassessment Office to have a more accurate picture of the rental market, including typical expense and vacancy rates, for each type of commercial property.
Pursuant to authorization derived from Section 58.1-3294 of the Code of Virginia, the Fauquier County Reassessment Office requests that owners of income-producing real estate to furnish statements of the income and expenses attributable to the real estate. Owners not furnishing requested income and expense information cannot use income as a basis of appeal of the assessment until the next general reassessment.
In accordance with Title 58.1-3 of the Code of Virginia, income and expense information obtained for assessment purposes is considered proprietary and held in strict confidentiality. This data is not shared with anyone from the general public other than the submitting property owner and their authorized representatives.
This is basically a matter of volume. As acreage increases the cost per acreage decreases. Conversely, as acreage decreases the value of the land generally increases. Home site values represent fixed costs and as such increase the per acre of smaller tracts exponentially.
A manufactured "mobile" home used as a dwelling and titled with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is assessed as personal property and taxed at the real estate rate.
A manufactured "mobile" home used as a dwelling and converted to real estate by turning in the title to the DMV is assessed as real estate and taxed as the real estate as long as the land owner and the manufactured home owner are the same.
A manufactured "mobile" home used as an accessory structure and has permanence, i.e., foundation or improvement(s) built around it or utilities attached, may be assessed as real estate, otherwise it is personal property and taxed as real estate.
The land on which the structure is resides and any improvements to the structure, i.e. porches, decks, paved driveways, fences, etc are assessed and tax as real estate.
Why did my improvement value go up when I have not made any property improvements in four (4) years?
The term “improvement” refers constructed items and/or structures which improve the real estate. These include buildings, paving, pools, barns, towers, etc. that are physically located on the property. It does not refer to upgrades of constructed items and/or structures.
Real estate may be assessed for more or less than the purchase price because the assessment reflects "fair market value." Values change and the property value may have gone up or down since the purchase. This is especially true if a piece of real estate was purchased several years ago, or if a person happened to get a good buy because of a distress sale condition.
In addition, it should be noted the Fauquier County reassesses every 4 years. This means that if a property is purchased between assessments, the assessed value is the value determined at the time of the last reassessment, not at the time of the sale. In addition, if there is new construction done between assessments, the assessment of the new construction is based on the values determined in the last reassessment, not current values. This keeps assessments equitable throughout the County since everyone is assessed based on the same assessment year.
The Constitution of Virginia requires real estate assessments to represent fair market value. There is no provision to limit the amount of change from one reassessment cycle to the next.
A reassessment does not necessarily result in increased or decreased assessments for all properties as properties do not appreciate or depreciate at the same rate. In a given cycle, there will be assessments that rise, fall, or stay the same, based on internal and external factors that influence property values such as location; appreciation; depreciation; new construction; remodeling; or rezoning.
Real estate property taxes are determined by applying the tax rates against each $100 of taxable assessed property value. To know if taxes will go up or down, both the assessed property value and the tax rate must be known.
The Reassessment Office determines the fair market real estate value which goes into effect January 1, 2018.
Real estate taxes for the 2018 reassessment are not determined until the County Board of Supervisors sets the annual tax rate at the end of March/beginning of April in 2018.
Tax rates in Fauquier County are expressed in dollars per one hundred dollars of taxable assessed value. For example, if the total real estate tax rate was $1.039 cents per $100.00, this would result in a real estate tax of $2,597.50 on a property with a taxable assessed value of $250,000.
Fair Market Value
Tax Rate Taxable Value Tax Levy $250,000 $1.039/100 $250,000 $2,597.50
Note: In the years between reassessments, the Office of the Commissioner of the Revenue maintains the assessment data. Unless there is a change such as boundary adjustment, division of property, change in zoning, court orders, or new construction, these assessed values remain in effect for four years. To maintain equity, changes occurring between reassessments are assessed using values determined by the last reassessment.
After all field work has been completed and the data has been verified, Reassessment Notices detailing the new property values are mailed to current real estate owner of record. No rumor or other casual information should be considered prior to the mailing of the official notices.
The 2018 Reassessment Notices will be mailed in October 2017. Informal hearing scheduling will take place from Mid-October through early November. Informal hearings will be held from mid October through early December. Results of these hearings and changes in assessment due to new construction and market adjustments will be mailed at the end of December 2017.
New construction occurring between mid-November 2017 and the end of December 2017 and not previously assessed, will be assessed. The Commissioner of the Revenue will send change in assessment notices to the current real estate owner of record.
All hearings are by appointment only. The schedules of dates for informal reassessment hearings and formal Board of Equalization hearings and the associate hearing request periods are posted publicly and on the Reassessment site prior to the beginning of hearings.
- After receipt of a Reassessment notice, a citizen can schedule an informal hearing with the Reassessment Office to review the real property value; or
- After the completion of the Reassessment, a citizen can schedule a formal Board of Equalization (BOE) hearing to appeal the real property value; or
- After the completion of the BOE term, a citizen can appeal the real property value to the Circuit Court of Fauquier County.
During the Reassessment phase, property owners are encouraged to first schedule an informal hearing with the Reassessment Office concerning assessment disputes; however, they may appeal directly to the BOE and/or to the Circuit Court of Fauquier County.
Appeals must be supported by evidence showing that assessed value is incorrectly represented; the value does not reflect market value; or the value is not uniform with other comparable properties. Evidence should consist of
- sales of comparable properties in the area which took place during the reassessment period;
- comparisons of other similar properties in the area which are assessed differently; and/or
- information on conditions of the property not previously known to the appraiser
- copy of listing agreement showing property being marketed at or below assessed value for 6 months or longer.
A Supporting Data form provides a vehicle for organizing the evidence required to present your appeal at the hearing. Prior to your hearing, you will need to provide copies of all supporting documentation, inclusive of a Supporting Data form, to the Reassessment Office. The Informal Supporting Data forms are available online and at the Fauquier Libraries after Reassessment Notices are mailed. The BOE Supporting Data forms are available online and at the Fauquier Libraries after the BOE sets their appeal schedule.
In general, comparables of properties for sale, but not yet sold; and individual appraisals are not sufficient evidence on their own.
All mail is sent to the current real estate owner of record. Mailing address information is managed by the Commission of the Revenue. To verify your mailing address, you can check REO. If the listed mailing address is not your current mailing address, see below for How do I correct my mailing address?
Due to the annual data processing cycle, the recording of changes in ownership that took place after January 1 of the current year may be delayed. If you are a new owner who is requesting a hearing, check REO to see if you are shown as the current owner.
If you are not listed as the current owner, please contact the Commissioner of the Revenue to request an expedited update.
Each year in January/February, appraisers are in the the field to gather information for new construction that took place in the prior November/December. This data is then turned over to the Commissioner of the Revenue for inclusion in the annual land book.
This same process takes place at the conclusion of a Reassessment.