If you live in Fairfax County, then you recently received your real estate tax assessment.
For many of you (45% to be exact), the assessment went up. And gosh darn it (that’s as strong as we can say it here on the blog!) – that will likely mean higher taxes this year. (The Board of Supervisors has not set the 2017 tax rate yet, but if the past predicts the future, what you pay will increase either because of an increased tax rate or because your assessment increased.)
The good news is (in terms of taxes, not values) – assessments are up on average only 0.68%. (That’s less than one percent.)
The bad news is, assessments did not rise as much as the previous year in part because values did not rise as much. While 2015 saw a 3.23% increase in median sold price in Fairfax County, 2016 was flat (0.03%)
(If you have not received your notice yet, you can check your Fairfax County assessment value online.)
Here’s what Fairfax County reports overall:
Of the 353,695 taxable parcels in Fairfax County:
- 232,280 have an assessment change
- 121,415 have no assessment change
Here’s the breakdown of average home property assessments (averages are not necessarily indicative of individual properties or neighborhoods):
- Countywide average for all homes – $533,168
- Single family-detached homes – $639,468, up 1.10 percent
- Townhouse/duplex properties – $398,166, up 1.37 percent
- Condominiums – $260,617, down 0.32 percent
Now. Truth be told – the assessments in Fairfax County are oftentimes LOWER than actual “market value” (meaning what a “willing Seller” and “willing Buyer” agree a property is worth by ratifying a contract to sell/buy that property.)
If you are thinking of buying a home in Fairfax County, don’t be deceived into thinking you will be able to buy a home for about what the County has assessed as the value of the property. We are often asked how a Seller could justify an asking price above the Fairfax County tax assessment. Well – here’s an example of why.
We track the tax assessment versus actual sales price on all homes that we sell. (Note: Our statistical pool may not be quite scientific, but since we have sold more homes in Fairfax County than almost any Realtor in the area – we think the results are at least representative.) Here’s what we found over the past years:
- We saw wide swings in variance between assessed value and actual sales price: from homes selling for $102,100 below assessed value to homes selling for $201,700 above assessed value.
- Approximately 95% of the homes actually sold for more than the assessed value.
- Many homes show inaccurate info in the tax records – for example, finished basements are not shown, number of bedrooms may be incorrect, square footage may be off. And all of these things may cause a lower assessed value.
So, while there is often a correlation between assessed value and market value, the market value is almost always higher.
Assessed value is just ONE factor to look at when buying or selling. A better place to start is with a FREE INSTANT online estimate. Then schedule an appointment with your Realtor for a custom estimate.
If you think your assessment is wrong, Fairfax County does have an appeal process. You can file an online appeal prior to April 3rd. More info here.
Also note that Seniors and People with Disabilities may be eligible for the county’s tax relief program. More info here.
If you have questions about your assessed value, the market value of your home or are thinking of buying or selling a home, give The Belt Team a call (703) 242-3975. We are happy to help you make the right move!