Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Assessment Time Again! What's the Value of YOUR Property?

Well folks, it's that time of year again... time for real estate assessments.  I got mine in the mail today. According to this, the value of my property went up exactly 3%.  The tax rate is going up, too, so this means my real estate taxes are going to go up. Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.

Here in Loudoun County, the county assessor's office attempts to calculate the approximate fair market value of every property in the county.  Then the tax rate (now $1.30 per $100 of value) is applied to that value to determine your real estate taxes for the year. So, the higher your value, the higher your taxes. And if you're in a town, like me, you pay an additional tax based on that assessed value, too.

Determining Fair Market Value for every property in the county is no easy task.  They do this using a combination of methods, and they are often remarkably "dead on"... but it is NOT a perfect system, and if an error was made, it is your responsibility to catch it.

As a REALTOR, I check by pulling up data in the MLS on recent sales in my neighborhood.  Based on that, I determine if I think my house was valued correctly.  Most non-REALTORs will use the tax database to check local sales, and that is a good source, but it is not as detailed as the MLS listings which generally reflect details about the condition of the property, pictures of the property, terms of sale, etc., all of which impact value. 

Want to know a secret?  You CAN have access to the same information I do.  You can contact me directly to request that I run a report for you, which I am happy to do, or you can order an automated report at  Just fill out the form and within minutes, an automated report will be emailed to you.  If you live in a neighborhood of similar homes and there have been recent sales, everything you need will be right there.

However, like any automated report, this is less than perfect.  The more unique your property the harder it is for anyone, and especially any automated system, to determine the best comps for your home or property.  In that case, I recommend you contact me and ask for a quick CMA.... this will include comps hand chosen for your property, and will give you an idea of whether or not your property was reasonably valued by the assessor's office.

Once you have done a little research, if you disagree and want your assessment changed, requesting a review is simple.  Just fill out this online form (Click Here)

If that doesn't get you the result you want, you can appeal the request to the Board of Equalization by June 1st. (Click Here for more information.)

I probably help 4 or 5 neighbors get their real estate taxes reduced each year, and I am happy to provide you with this data.  If you want to know a "big" secret  (shhhh!), the county doesn't put up much of a fight.  So, if you think the assessment is high, it makes sense for you to try to do something about it.

Be sure to call me if I can help!
Vicky Chrisner

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