Assessment Guide

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Real Estate Assessments

Each year, the City Assessor's Office appraises all real property in the City to determine its value for tax purposes. All assessments of real property, including land and permanently affixed structures, are based on fair market value and are equitable with the assessments of comparable properties.

In addition to estimating the market value of all existing property, the Assessor's Office inspects, lists and determines the value of all new construction in the City, including both new structures and renovations or additions to existing structures.

Assessments Process

How Information is Obtained

To determine the value of a property, the appraisal staff obtains and maintains many different types of information. The Assessor's Office keeps on file a property record card listing the physical characteristics of each property and its condition. This card is a matter of public record and may be reviewed at any time.

Property selling price in the City is an important factor in determining assessment values. The Assessor's Office regularly researches property transfer records, which are recorded at the Land Records Office in the Fairfax County Judicial Center.

Other types of information used in determining the value of commercial, industrial and special purpose properties include current building replacement costs, the operating and maintenance costs of various types of property, and rental rates certain properties can be expected to earn.

Estimating the Fair Market Value

The appraisal staff employs three universally accepted approaches in estimating market values, using the most appropriate for the type of property being appraised.

  • Residential Properties - The market data approach is preferred in estimating the value of residential property, which experiences a high level of sales. The estimated value is obtained by comparing similar properties of the same type and class which have sold recently in the same neighborhood, taking into consideration other factors which may effect value, such as location, condition and physical characteristics. This approach is considered the most reliable in determining value because it reflects the balance of supply and demand in the marketplace; it is based on the principle that a typical buyer will not purchase property at a price higher than the selling price of similar property.
  • Non-Residential Properties- Properties such as shopping centers, office buildings and apartment complexes are purchased based on future earning capacity. These properties, therefore, are most often valued by the income approach, which recognizes the relationship between the property's value and the income it is expected to earn. The appraiser uses certain market data and mathematical computations to translate the estimated future income of a property into an estimate of present day market value.
  • Special purpose properties that rarely sell, such as schools, churches and banks, are valued by the cost approach. The current cost of replacement of the building, less accrued depreciation, plus the value of the land as determined by recent sales provide an estimate of value.

The Appeals Process

Once the assessments are mailed, you as a property owner have 30 days to appeal the assessment, either by calling or visiting the Real Estate Assessor's Office in City Hall. 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 and fill out Board of Equalization Appeals Form

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.

Virginia Assessment Law

Real estate assessments, which are made each year by the Assessor's Office, are effective January 1 of the year and are at 100 percent of fair market value.

Fair market value is "the price a property will bring when it is offered for sale by one who desires, but is not obliged, to sell it and is bought by one who is under no necessity of having it."

Assessment and Taxes

The revenue projected from real estate assessment is central to the City's annual budget; however, the Assessor does not set the tax rate.

During the budget process, City Council determines how much income the City must generate to provide municipal services to residents. The Council then sets a tax rate that will yield the needed revenue. That tax rate multiplied by the assessed value of the property determines the taxes owed by each property owner.

City taxes are paid twice a year, on June 21 and December 5. For information on taxes, please call the City Treasurer at 703.385.7900

The tax formula is:
assessment x tax rate = tax bill

Tax Rate -- $1.075 per $100

Property Value -- $100,000
$100,000 x .01075 = $1,075 tax bill

Property Value -- $200,000
$200,000 x .01075 = $2,150 tax bill

Tax Exempt Properties

The State Constitution does provide for tax exemption for properties owned by federal, state and local governments.

Other exempt properties include those used for religious, charitable, cultural or historical purposes. Although these properties are exempt from taxation, the Assessor maintains current records and appraisals on them.

Tax Relief

The City offers Tax Relief for the Elderly and Handicapped.