Understanding the Real Estate Assessment Notice and other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)




Why have I received this real estate assessment notice?

In accordance with Section 58.1-3330 of the Code of Virginia, you are provided this annual notice as an official statement of the assessed value of your real property for local tax purposes.

The January 1, 2014 real estate assessment represents the estimated fair market value of your property. This notice is not a tax bill. The assessed value provides the basis for your real estate taxes that will be due on July 28 and December 5.

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How is the current real estate market reflected in my assessment?

During 2013 the residential market continued to improve in Fairfax County. This market improvement has meant fewer foreclosures, faster sales and price appreciation in most neighborhoods.

As of January 1, 2014, the real estate market change during 2013 has resulted in an overall increase in residential property assessments due to equalization totaling 6.54%.

The amount of price increase varied by property type and neighborhood. Approximately 88% of residential properties, excluding those with new construction, have an assessment increase for 2014. Another 9% have no change in assessed value from the prior year. 

The number of days a property was listed for sale decreased from an average of 50 days in 2012, to an average of 36 days in 2013, or an improvement of 28% (44% of these properties actually sold in 10 days or less). Sale prices also were closer to their list price than last year, selling on average at about 98% of their list price, providing another indication of the strong residential market. Residential sales volume in the county increased over ten percent from 2012 sales, providing staff with more than 14,000 fair market sales to analyze in determining 2014 assessments.

While foreclosures generally have a dampening effect on competitive sale prices, their influence has had much less impact on 2014 assessments due to the decline in foreclosure activity. 

It is important to note that the assessment changes discussed herein are countywide averages and may not reflect the assessment changes within your specific neighborhood. DTA will continue to monitor market sales throughout 2014. These future sales will be reflected in the assessments for 2015.

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Is there a law that prevents assessments from changing more than a certain amount from year to year?

The Constitution of Virginia requires real estate assessments to represent fair market value. There is no provision to limit the amount of change from year to year.

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How does the percentage of my assessment change compare to that of others?

There are about 341,000 residential properties in Fairfax County. As noted before, on average residential property increased by 6.54% due to equalization. Sales activity and price fluctuation within the real estate market varies somewhat based on property type and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Consequently, the percentage of assessment change is also variable. For perspective, you can see the sale prices of properties within your assessment neighborhood by visiting http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov. The 2014 assessments for commercial property experienced an overall average decrease in value of 0.10% excluding new construction.

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What are my options if I need more information or disagree with my assessment?

We encourage you to call our DTA staff appraisers at 703-222-8234 [TTY 703-222-7594] to discuss your assessment questions. You may also review real estate information from the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) online, at

http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/Main/Home.aspx

You may use the online information to:

a) determine if your property is described correctly on DTA records. Please note, commercial properties cannot be fully described on the Web site; you may need to call DTA for more details.

b) check the comparability of assessments in your general area for properties that have physical features similar to your own home.

c) view a list of sales in your assessment neighborhood and consider if your property could have sold for its assessed value as of January 1, 2014.

d) file a residential appeal online by visiting www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dta/realestatetax_assessappeal or downloading hard copy appeal forms from this website. 

Any administrative appeals are requested to be filed with DTA by April 4, 2014, in order to allow time for review prior to the filing deadline for the Board of Equalization (BOE).

You may also appeal to the BOE, by June 2, 2014. Property owners are encouraged to file an appeal with DTA prior to filing with the BOE. Contact the BOE at 703-324-4891, [TTY 703-222-7594] or at Suite 331, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035.

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The Internet record shows incorrect data for my property. How can this be corrected?

The Department of Tax Administration strives to maintain accurate real estate records. Please notify us immediately should you note an error in your property record by calling 703-222-8234, [TTY 703-222-7594], by email, or writing to: Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration, Suite 357, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035.

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How do I arrange to have my real estate tax bill sent to my home address?

Most mortgage companies participate in a mass billing and payment system through an electronic information exchange with Fairfax County. Participating mortgage companies furnish Fairfax County with electronic data twice yearly listing the accounts whereby they will be paying the taxes from escrow accounts. If your mortgage holder does not commit to pay your Real Estate taxes, the tax bills will be mailed to your current mailing address. You may check your current mailing address in the real estate online records.

Real Estate tax bills are due in two installments on July 28 and December 5 of each calendar year. If you do not receive future tax bills at least two weeks before the due date, you can confirm the amount due by calling the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) at 703-222-8234, [TTY 703-222-7594] or by email at dtarcd@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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What are the differences between sales prices, appraisals, and assessments?

Sale price is the actual price a buyer pays for a particular property. An appraisal is a detailed single property valuation, and may be obtained any time throughout the year. Appraisals can have a variety of purposes, such as a mortgage loan, sale, home equity loan, or estate valuations.

An assessment is a mass appraisal of property as of January 1 each year for tax purposes. Assessments are based on large numbers of sales that are analyzed to determine values for large groups of similar properties.

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How do Fairfax County assessments compare with other jurisdictions? 

Indications of residential market improvement have occurred throughout the region. Northern Virginia jurisdictions overall saw an increase in average residential values during 2013.

Residential Equalization Changes in Surrounding Jurisdictions

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Why is the change in my assessment different than the percentage published in the local newspapers for properties in my area?

Newspapers sometimes publish a summary of the average sale price in an area that compares one time period to another. While this may give a general indication of a percentage change in sales prices, it should not be compared to any percentage change in your assessment, for the following reasons:

  • The time period shown may not match that of the January 1st effective date of assessment.
  • Areas covered are typically a zip code or other large area and do not reflect different changes within individual neighborhoods. In addition, property types may have been combined and do not take into account differing percentage changes between single family, townhouse, and condominium types of residential dwellings.
  • A mean or median percentage change can be overly influenced by the types of properties sold during the specified time period. For example, percentage changes can be misleading if more lower priced homes sold during the beginning of the time period versus more higher priced homes at the end.

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How can a property be assessed for more than its purchase price?

Real Estate may be assessed for more than the sales price because the assessment reflects "fair market value." Fair market value is not necessarily the price paid for a piece of real estate, but rather, what it is worth on the real estate market. A sale may be below fair market value, for example, if the owners are in financial distress and need to sell quickly, lowering the price beyond what they might otherwise accept. Selling a property at an amount simply sufficient to cover the mortgage would be another example of a distress sale not at fair market value. The 2014 assessments are based on 2013 sales. Sales transactions during 2014 will be analyzed to determine the 2015 assessments.

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Why must real estate be taxed at Fair Market Value?

The Virginia Constitution requires that real estate be assessed at fair market value.

Refer to Article X, Va. Constitution for more information.

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What is a Market value sale and where is this information available?

Market Value sales are those that have been determined by DTA appraisers to be representative of fair market value (i.e., a willing seller and buyer, neither party related to the other, neither party under duress to sell or buy, adequate exposure of the property to the market, and financing terms typical for the current market) and will have a "Yes" in the Market Value Sale column. Non-market sales are those that have been determined to be not representative of the typical market value. There will be a "No" in the Market Value Sale column for these sales. The Sales Notes column will provide more information describing the sale. Examples of non-market sales may include a bank foreclosure or a sale to a related party.

For multi-parcel sales from January 1 2004 forward, the total sales price will be shown on each of the parcels. There will also be a note indicating that the parcels are part of a multiparcel sale. Multiparcel sales prior to 2004 will show as a zero price on the website, with a note on the detail record indicating a multiple parcel sale. Please contact us for the sales price.

Current year sales which have been entered into our records are indicated on the initial search panel by a sales date in the current year.

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What is the current tax rate?

The proposed base real estate tax rate for 2014 (FY 2015) is $1.085 per $100 of assessed value. See our Real Estate - Tax Rates and Fees page for more information about other tax district rates and service charges that may be applicable in certain districts.


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How is the real estate tax calculated?

The proposed base real estate tax rate is $1.085 per $100 of assessed value. Check to see if other tax rates apply to the property in question. Add all applicable tax rates to get the total tax rate. To compute the real estate tax on a property assessed at $400,000, divide the assessed value by 100 and multiply by the total tax rate:

($400,000 ÷ 100) x $1.085 = $4,340

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When are my real estate taxes due?

Real estate taxes are due in two equal installments. The due dates are July 28 and December 5 each year. Tax bills are mailed out 3 to 4 weeks prior to the due dates. If taxes are paid by the mortgage company, the bill is sent electronically to them.

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Where can I find more information about my assessment or speak with someone about my assessment?

We will be pleased to provide answers to any questions you may have about your real estate assessment. In addition to the information on this site, you may contact us by the following methods:

  • Telephone: Call the Central Information Team (CIT) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 703-222-8234, [TTY: 703-222-7594]. You may request to speak with an appraiser.
  • E-mail: Specific questions or requests for more information may be requested using email. Please include a telephone number where you can be reached during the day.
  • Automated Information System: Call 703-222-6740 Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to hear recorded property descriptions, assessed values, and sales prices. You may also use this number to receive a faxed report for up to five properties per call.
  • Facsimile: Specific questions or requests for more information may be faxed to 703-324-4935. Please include a telephone number where you can be reached during the day.
  • Regular Mail: Specific questions or requests for more information may be addressed to Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration, Suite 357, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035. Please include a telephone number where you can be reached during the day.

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How do I obtain a copy of my deed or Certificate of Satisfaction?

This information is available through the Fairfax County Circuit Court Land Records Division at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/courts/circuit/lr_gen_info.htm.

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Is my real estate assessment used to determine the insurable value of my home?

It is industry standard for insurance companies to use an independent replacement cost to determine the insurable value of your home. In the case of a loss, damages would generally be paid based on the insurance company’s independent estimate of the replacement cost--not the building portion of your assessment. Keep in mind that the house assessment does not equal the cost to replace a house. For assessment purposes, the improvement value reflects years of normal depreciation. For insurance purposes, your insurance company would generally use their own estimate of what it would cost to rebuild your home today.

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Why is my assessment divided into separate land and building values? 

For properties with buildings, the assessed value is allocated between land and building to comply with legal reporting requirements.  The overall tax burden is based only on the total assessed value (i.e., the total of land plus any building). The percentage of land to total property assessment has remained relatively constant for 2014.

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How do I purchase property at public auction for delinquent taxes? 

Selling properties at public auction for delinquent real estate taxes in Fairfax County is generally a last resort collection action inasmuch as the DTA has a wide array of collection tools and the County has an outstanding collection rate. If real estate must be sold to collect delinquent taxes, any tax sale would be handled by the County's contract legal firm for such collections, with oversight from the County Attorney's Office. If you have questions or would like to be added to a potential bidders list for real estate public auctions, please visit our collection attorney, Taxing Authority Consulting Services PC online at http://taxva.us/. You will only be notified in the event a public auction is scheduled. Please note, the Code of Virginia does not authorize the sale of tax lien certificates. Sales only occur at public auction, and the sale conveys title to the property itself. See Real Estate currently scheduled for Public Auction.

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How do I know my assessment reflects fair market value?

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