STAUNTON — Staunton homeowners may have received their real estate assessments in the mail this week and some are surprised by the jump in the number.
The taxable properties in the city averaged an increase in value by 10.14%, according to a release from the city.
There are 11,249 taxable properties located Staunton. Individual neighborhoods and sections of the city change at different rates and assessments of individual properties will vary from the average change for the city overall, the release said.
But some property owners are shocked to see their assessments with more than a 20% increase, according to a feed on the Staunton NextDoor app. Social media has been abuzz with people posting they’ve seen a large increase in their property’s assessment ranging in the upwards of 20% and are not very happy about it.
“I can say in general the range of increase in neighborhoods goes from about 4% to 20%, average,” according to City Assessor Charles Haney.
The city was unable to provide a more narrow average increase per neighborhood.
Reassessments occur every two years. In 2019, taxable properties in the city increased by 7.67%.
Have you seen an increase in your assessment? Are you going to appeal? Let us know. Email reporter Laura Peters at [email protected]
- Residential properties — 10.86% average increase
- Commercial properties — 7.92% average increase
- Industrial properties — 1.85% average increase
- Vacant land — 11.62% average increase
- New Construction Added — $15,906,277
Property owners can appeal the assessment and have until March 30 to do so.
Staunton City Council will also hold a public hearing prior to any change in the real estate tax rate. The 2021 taxes have been calculated using the current tax rate of 95 cents per hundred, which is subject to change.
- The City reassesses every two years, on odd numbered years. The most recent reassessment was effective January 1, 2021. The next reassessment will be effective January 1, 2023. Reassessment notices are typically mailed out at the end of January of the new assessment year.
- The assessor’s primary duty is to estimate the fair market value of local real estate. The amount of taxes paid by each property owner is a function of the tax rate established by the City Council (currently $0.95) and determined by the amount of revenue needed to provide City services. The amount of tax levied follows this formula:
- Assessed Value / 100 x Tax Rate = Real Estate Taxes
- An example: Property assessed at $125,000($125,000 / 100) x $0.95 = $1,187.50
Assessors are evaluating a few things when assessing a property for tax purposes. They look at what similar properties are selling for, the value of any recent improvements, any income you may be making from and other factors—like the replacement cost of the property, according to Realtor.com.
But, the bottom line is the higher your home’s assessed value, the more you’ll pay in tax, Realtor.com said.
The real estate assessments are only one factor that determines individual taxes, Haney said, and it was too early to identify how specifically the assessment would impact taxes.
The other factor is the tax rate the city council sets for time period of the assessments which hasn’t yet been set, he said.
According to Haney, some neighborhoods may experience higher assessment rates because of availability and desired product on the market.
“We look at sales in each assessing neighborhood to determine the market value in those neighborhoods,” Haney said. “Therefore the value change in each neighborhood may be different depending on factors including housing types, amenities, and other influencing circumstances. “
Haney said that the assessment changes are a direct response to market value and sales, but said it was too early to determine how COVID-19 has impacted those values.
The role the pandemic had on the market rings a bell for local broker Shannon Harrington.
Harrington said that the demand for houses has increased while the supply of property on the market has dwindled during COVID-19, since potential sellers have decided not to move or put their house for sale during the pandemic. The houses that are on the market, Harrington said, are up in price.
That means that if someone buys a house now, they could face having to sell it for a lower price a few years down the road.
It’s something that she and other brokers saw happen before the market crash in 2008.
“For those of us who have been doing this for a long time, it feels tense like that again,” Harrington said.
Still, Harrington said, that the real estate prices were much lower when she originally moved into town. “They’ve increased but it’s more like they’re catching up, ” she said.
Haney said that the increase in assessment rates generally mean that the locality is healthy and has a growing economy.
“A strong real estate market, as indicated by the increases in both commercial and residential values, show that Staunton is good place to invest in buying a home or owning a business,” he said.
How to appeal
According to Haney, there were 146 appeals requested for the assessments in 2019. The city has had 48 calls for this year’s assessments so far.
Virginia law states that the basis for an appeal must include either or both of two reasons: The property is not assessed at its fair market value and the property is not assessed equitably with other similar properties.
Requests for assessment reviews by the city assessor are to be made by March 1.
The assessor’s office is located at 116 W. Beverley St. or by calling 540-332-3827. Appeals to the board of equalization must be filed by March 20. Appeal forms are available by contacting the city assessor’s office.
Laura Peters is the trending topics reporter at The News Leader. Have a news tip on local trends or businesses? Or a good feature? You can reach reporter Laura Peters (she/her) at [email protected]. Follow her @peterslaura. Subscribe to The News Leader at newsleader.com.
Alison Cutler (she/her) is the Government Watchdog Reporter at The News Leader. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Contact Alison at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @alisonjc2.