Real Estate Assessment - Frequently Asked Questions

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Why does Charlottesville Assess at Market Value?  
Assessments are required by the Code of Virginia to be assessed at 100% fair market value.

What is Market Value?  
Market value is defined as the most probable price expressed in terms of money that a property would bring if exposed for sale on the open market.  The sale should be an arms length transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer, both of whom are knowledgeable concerning all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.

The Assessment Process - Each year the Assessor's Office appraises all real property in the City to determine values for tax purposes.  The assessments are effective January 1 of each year.  Change of assessment notices are mailed annually around January 31.

How does the Assessor's Office obtain information on properties? 
The appraisal staff inspects properties and gathers information that is pertinent to value: type and quality of construction, square footage, type of heat, baths, fireplaces, location, etc.  This information is maintained and kept on file in the Assessor's Office. The information is a matter of public record and may be reviewed at any time.

How are property values determined?  
Residential properties are appraised by the market approach.  In this approach, the value is obtained by comparing similar properties of the same type and class which have sold recently in the same neighborhood, taking into consideration factors which may effect value, such as location, condition, size, etc.  Recent sale prices in your neighborhood determine what your assessment will be.  Each sale is examined closely to determine if the transaction was an arms length transaction.  Each time a property sells the Assessor's Office mails a questionnaire to the buyer asking questions about the sale.   On average, about eighty percent of the properties that sell in the city are considered arms length sales.  Examples of sales that would not be considered arms length include bank foreclosures, auctions, sales between family members, condemnations, sales due to divorces, and tenant buying from owner, etc.

What if there are no recent sales on a certain street or block?  
If there are no recent sales in a certain area, the assessor has to use sales from a comparable area to determine values.  Areas to which the assessor compares your property are similar in location, price range and style of homes.  This situation rarely occurs due to the number of properties that sell each year in the city.

Why do assessments change from year to year?  
When the market values in your neighborhood change, so does the assessed value.  For instance, if homes in your area are selling at prices above their assessed values the assessments will likely increase.  However, if homes in your area are selling below their assessed values they will likely decrease.

Why are some properties assessed higher or lower than what they sell for?   
The assessment/appraisal business is not an exact science.  The assessor does not get the opportunity to go into every home when assessments are made.  In today's world most people are working when the assessor comes around. Therefore, most assessments are based on exterior inspections.  The assessor tries to monitor each property so that assessments are fair and equitable and not in excess of market value.   If the assessor finds that an assessment is low or high s/he will correct it.

How does a property owner appeal an assessment?
Once the assessments are mailed, you as a property owner have 30 days to appeal the assessment. To initiate this process, fill out an Assessment Appeal Application and file it with our office by mail or in person at the City Assessor's Office located at 102 5th Street NE.  You may speak to an appraiser, review the data used in computing the assessment and, if necessary, schedule an inspection of the property.

After this, should a dispute still exist, you may appeal to the Board of Equalization. The three-person board, appointed by the Circuit Court, is composed of City property owners.  The board may affirm, reduce or raise the assessment, if in their opinion such adjustments are necessary to equalize the tax burden upon all citizens in the City. If you are dissatisfied with the Board's decision, you may appeal to the Circuit Court.

To read a more detailed description of the appeals process, please click here or select the Appeals Process page from the navigation menu at the left of this screen.

How is the tax rate determined?
The tax rate is set by City Council in the spring of each year. The formula to calculate your taxes is as follows:

Assessment divided by 100 X Tax Rate = Annual Taxes 

For Real Estate valued at $100,000 the annual taxes are calculated as follows:

$100,000/100 = $1,000 x $.95 = $950.00

The semi-annual tax bill is calculated by dividing annual taxes by 2: $950/2 = $450 

The tax rate has been reduced by City Council several times in recent years. It is currently $.95 per $100, down from $1.11 per $100 several years ago. City taxes are paid twice a year to the City Treasurer's Office on June 5 and December 5, respectively.

Does the City offer any programs for financial assistance?
The City of Charlottesville offers several programs that residents are encouraged to apply for. These programs are administered by the Commissioner of Revenue's Office. The following links provide detailed information for the programs currently offered:

Please contact the Charlottesville Commissioner of Revenue’s Office at 434-970-3160 for assistance.

Important Phone Numbers

City Assessor’s Office – 434-970-3136
The City Assessor's Office has moved. The new location is 102 5th Street NE, adjacent to CitySpace in the Market Street Parking Garage. Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

City Treasurer's Office – 434-970-3146
For information concerning tax collection and penalties contact the City Treasurer's Office.

City Commissioner of Revenue – 434-970-3160
For Real Estate Tax and Rent Relief

Neighborhood Development Services – 434-970-3182
For Zoning questions 

If you have real estate assessment questions, please call the City Assessor's Office at 434-970-3136. 

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