Assessment Process and Overview
York County employs a professional full-time appraisal staff, of six licensed appraisers and one administrative specialist, to perform a biennial reassessment for all residential, commercial and exempt real property, located within County boundaries. Beginning in January 2023, staff will begin the 2024 reassessment and complete all appraisals by December 31st; assessments established for 2024 will have an effective date of January 1, 2024 and remain in effect through December 31, 2025.
Property owners will receive their proposed notice in early January and will have the opportunity to talk with the appraiser who performed the appraisal as well as review the home’s characteristics and discuss relevant market data that directly influenced the proposed assessment. Any error discovered involving acreage or the home’s square footage can be easily corrected during the informal process and a revised assessment mailed to the owner reflecting the corrected value.
Homeowners wishing to challenge the proposed assessment can appeal, to a court appointed Board of Equalization, by completing and filing the online application located on the Assessor’s website by February 28.
Code of Virginia requires assessments to represent 100% of fair market value and be equitable and uniform among property classes. Fair market value is established by using arms-length sales that occurred in the two preceding calendar years. Each sale is reviewed by an appraiser ensuring it represents an arms-length sale. As part of the verification process appraisers review deeds and communicate with attorneys, buyers and sellers who were party to the transaction.
York County delineates residential neighborhoods using legal, natural or man-made boundaries and analyzes sales within those boundaries to determine equitable assessments for each home.
Impacting the property’s final valuation are building sketches, structural characteristics, land area and topographical details. These property specific details are collected, stored and updated, as necessary, in addition to maintaining a history of sales and building permit activity.
The appraisal industry recognizes and utilizes three approaches for establishing fair market value for municipal assessments or developing an independent appraisal for financing purposes. Fair market value can be determined for all property types by using the sales comparison approach, cost approach, or income approach; all approaches are considered and then reconciled into a final valuation. It’s important to note that one approach may be more appropriate depending on the property type and information available for analysis.
In the spring, the Assessor’s Office mails income and expense requests to owners or managers of apartments, hotels, shopping centers, office complexes, and other properties that can be described as “income producing”. The County relies on that information to determine the net operating income which is converted into a value using a capitalization technique and a rate specific to that property class. A property’s ability to generate a positive income stream impacts the final valuation. There is a direct correlation between performance and value. Older properties with maintenance issues, high vacancy and expenses typically translate into a poor performance and will most likely yield a lower property value.
For new commercial properties the cost approach may be the best indicator of value until the property is fully established and has a stabilized rent and expense history.
Over the last twenty years, assessment offices throughout Virginia have implemented computer assisted mass appraisal programs to improve database quality and increase efficiency. CAMA programs allow assessment officials to provide quality control through reporting and testing while maintaining a detailed record for every property. In 2022, York County implement Vision, its CAMA system, which will continue to assist in generating future reassessments.
Technology has enhanced the mass appraisal process and improved the quality of assessments through the use of mass appraisal software, geographic information systems, aerial photography, and information providers such as CoStar supplying commercial marketing data and industry trends specific to each commercial sector.
Also, licensed appraisers are required to participate in continuing education, in order to maintain a Virginia license, and can find resources and support through memberships with the International Association of Assessing Officers, Appraisal Foundation, and Appraisal Institute.