FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a reassessment?
Why reassess now?
Who is doing the reassessment?
Why do we have an outside firm performing the reassessment?
What are basic data collection procedures?
What is the difference between sales price, appraisal, and assessments?
How is assessment value derived?
What is the Highest and Best Use Concept?
What is a home site and how is it valued?
Why am I asked for income and expense information in relation to my commercial real estate?
Why are smaller tracts of land valued at a higher rate per acre?
How are manufactured "mobile" homes assessed?
Why did my improvement value go up when I have not made any property improvements in four(4) years?
How can a property be assessed for more than its purchase price?
Is there a law that prevents assessments from changing more than a certain amount?
Will my assessment go up or down during this reassessment?
Will my taxes go up or down during after this reassessment?
How do I find out what my new reassessed value is?
How do I appeal my reassessment value?
How do I correct my mailing address?
What is a reassessment?
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.
Based on Fauquier County's current population, the Code of Virginia requires Fauquier County to reassess a minimum of every 4 years. The last reassessment went into effect on January 1, 2010. The results of the current reassessment will take effect January 1, 2014 and will be in effect until January 1, 2018.
After a bidding process, Fauquier County awarded the mass appraisal firm, Wampler-Eanes Appraisal Group LTD of Daleville, Virginia, the contract to perform the 2014 Reassessment. Wampler and Eanes will visit and examine each property, then update the assessed values in keeping with the fair market value.
A five member Board of Assessors (BOA) representing each of the magisterial districts, appointed by the Board of Supervisors (BOS), monitors the reassessment process for equity and consistency, and holds informal appeal hearings prior to the finalization of the reassessment values. Although appointed by the BOS, the BOA is an entity independent from the County, and not under the control of the BOS.
The contract for the mass appraisal and the term for the BOA are both limited to the completion and establishment of the values.
The Board of Equalization (BOE), appointed by the Fauquier County Circuit Court, conducts formal hearings and takes sworn testimony after values are established. The BOE has the power to increase, decrease, or keep the same assessment upon its review.
The reassessment process is very labor and time intensive. The entire process takes between 12 and 18 months to perform and requires that an assessor physically visit and assess every parcel in the County. To perform this task internally would require additional full-time staff and resources.
The assessor will arrive at your property in a vehicle clearly marked as “County Reassessment.” Upon arrival, the assessor will approach your house for an introduction. All assessors have official identification badges issued by Fauquier County. They will briefly explain their purpose for being at your property, and how they would like to conduct the inspection. Assessors will not come into your house.
The assessor 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 assessor may ask sales related questions.)
After speaking with you, the assessor will measure and inspect the exterior property, and document any changes that have been made since the last property assessment. The assessor 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 the assessor inspected your property, and as visuals aids if you have a hearing.
If no one is at home, the assessor 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.
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 33,000 parcels will be reviewed and assessed during a 12 month period. Equity is a primary consideration.
Mass appraisal techniques are used to value similar groups of commercial, industrial, residential, agricultural, or other properties. When grouping similar properties, the assessors 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.
What is the Highest and Best Use Concept?
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). 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 can not 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.
Anyone who owns their own land and places a manufactured home on it will receive a real estate bill for the assessed value of the land and any improvements i.e. porches, decks, paved driveways, fences, etc. The manufactured home will be billed separately as personal property and is taxed at the real estate rate.
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 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 real estate value which goes into effect January 1, 2014.
Real estate taxes are not determined until the Board of Supervisors sets the annual tax rate at the end of March/beginning of April.
Tax rates in Fauquier County are expressed in dollars per one hundred dollars of assessed value. For example, if the total real estate tax rate was $0.970 cents per $100.00, this would result in a real estate tax of $2,425 on a property assessed at $250,000.
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 the last known address of the land owner. No rumor or other casual information should be considered prior to the mailing of the official notices. The 2014 Reassessment Notices were sent out on October 10, 2013. Informal BOA hearings were held October 21, 2013 through December 6, 2013. Results of these hearings and changes in assessment due to new construction and market adjustments were mailed at the end of December 2013.
Static detailed reassessment information is provided online via Reassessment Real Estate Online (R-REO). This data was refreshed at the end of December 2013 and reflects that values that were turned over to the Commissioner of the Revenue as the baseline for the January 1, 2014 Real Estate Assessment. Any changes in assessment or corrections made by the Commissioner of the Revenue after the completion of the Reassessment are be reflected in Reassessment Real Estate Online (REO).
All appeal/hearings are by appointment only. The BOA and BOE hearing request periods and the schedule of hearing dates will be posted publically and on the Reassessment site prior to the beginning of hearings.
- After receipt of a Reassessment notice, a citizen can schedule a Board of Assessor (BOA) review
- After the completion of the Reassessment, a citizen can schedule a Board of Equalization (BOE) hearing/appeal to review 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.
Property owners are encouraged to first contact the Reassessment Office concerning assessment disputes; however, they may appeal directly to the BOE and/or to the Circuit Court of Fauquier County.
Appeals/hearings 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 assessor
- copy of listing agreement showing property being marketed at or below assessed value for 6 months or longer.
If the appeal is based on conditions of which the assessor was unaware, adequate documentation is required to support the claim.
In general, comparables of properties for sale, but not yet sold; and individual appraisals are not sufficient evidence on their own.
At or prior to your appeal, you will need to provide copies of all supporting documentation, inclusive of a completed Fauquier County Appeal form. This form is used to assist you in organizing and providing complete supporting documentation for your appeal.
If you need to update your mailing address, you can submit an online Address Change Request. This information is managed by the Commissioner of the Revenue. Changes will be reflected in Real Estate Online (REO) the day after the change is made. All data is verified before a change is made.
Date Last Modified: 01/06/2014