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Frequently Asked Questions
The following information has been published to better acquaint the property owner with the operation and function of the office of the Real Estate Assessor of the City of Chesapeake.
Q: Where does the Office of the Real Estate Assessor receive its authority?
A: The Virginia Constitution, the Code of Virginia (1950) Title 58.1 and the City of Chesapeake Charter and City Code, Chapter 30, Article III
Q: Who is responsible for making the assessment, how is he/she appointed and to whom is he/she responsible?
A: The Real Estate Assessor is appointed by the City Council to serve at its pleasure and is responsible to the Council.
Q: What is the purpose of conducting real estate assessments?
A: The purpose of real estate assessments is to fairly distribute the necessary tax burden among all property owners based on the market value of their property. Real Estate is assessed so that costs associated with our schools, fire and police protection and other City services can be allocated to property owners in proportion to the market value of their individual properties.
Q: What are the general functions of the Office of the Real Estate Assessor?
A: The general functions may be divided into six categories.
1. Assesses all real estate, including non-taxable properties, annually at 100% of their fair market value.
2. Interprets and administers all laws pertaining to real estate assessments and certain exemptions.
3. Maintains records and provides information on each parcel of real estate in the City of Chesapeake.
4. Mails notice of any change in any annual assessment. Such notice shall be postmarked on or before March 1 following the effective date of such annual assessment.
5. Conducts hearings and reviews assessments with the public.
6. Conducts informal site reviews at the request of the public.
Q: What is the effective date of an assessment?
A: The property is assessed as of January 1 of each year; however, the assessment made on January 1 does not produce taxes until the beginning of the fiscal tax year which begins July 1st of the same year.
Q: Who determines the tax rate and real estate taxes?
A: City Council determines the tax rate by the amount of revenue needed to provide the many services offered to our citizens. The amount of real estate tax is determined by multiplying the tax rate by the assessed value.
Q: Who is responsible for mailing the real estate tax bills and who collects the taxes?
A: The City Treasurer; which is an elected position, collects the taxes.
Q: What is the meaning of Land – Improvements – and Total as it appears on the tax notice?
A: Land, as shown on the tax notice, is the assessed value of the land; Improvements, as shown, is referring to the assessed value of all structures located on that particular piece of land; Total represents the land added to the improvements, which is the total assessed value.
Q: Who assesses property owned by public service corporations?
A: All railroads and pipelines are assessed by the Department of Taxation. All power companies and telephone companies are assessed by the State Corporation Commission.
Q: What is the ratio of assessment to fair market value?
A: The current assessment ratio is 100% of the estimated fair market value which is mandatory under State law.
Q: How are property values determined?
A: By an on-site inspection of both land and all improvements. A drawing of all new improvements is made giving the dimensions. The square footage area is figured and the type of construction such as brick, frame, etc is determined. Then, the value is determined through the use of the three approaches to value as follows:
a. Market Data or Comparative Sales Approach – the application of this approach obtains an estimate of value of property by comparing it with similar properties recently sold in the same area. The fair market value obtained by this approach might be described briefly as “the price paid by a willing buyer to a willing seller, neither being under abnormal pressures.”
b. Cost Approach – the current cost of reproduction, less accrued depreciation of all types (physical, functional, and economic), plus the value of land as determined by comparative sales, provides an estimate of the market value of a property in this approach.
c. Income Approach – market value is estimated in this approach by capitalizing the income earnings a commercial or industrial property is capable of producing.
Q: Will home maintenance increase your assessment?
A: Generally speaking, only those repairs which materially enhance the value of the property, or repairs that recapture a loss in value that has been previously recognized in a lower assessment, result in an increased assessment.
Q: What causes a property value to change?
A: A property value can change for many reasons. The most obvious is the property physically changes. For example, a bedroom, garage or swimming pool is added or part of the property is destroyed by flood or fire. The most frequent change is a change in the real estate market. When market values change so do the assessments. Value is created by transactions in the market place. The assessor has the authority to study those transactions and appraise property accordingly.
Q: Do demolitions affect assessments?
A: The assessed value of all buildings which are demolished is deducted from the total assessment and become effective January 1 and July 1 following the date on which the demolition was completed.
Q: Does the City have a program to assist senior citizens and disabled persons on their property taxes?
A: Yes, City Council adopted a program to assist qualifying individuals on both real estate and personal property taxes. To qualify individuals must meet income and net worth limitations. Exemption programs are also in place for disabled veterans, and spouses of military personnel killed in action (KIA).
Q: What courses of action are available to an aggrieved property owner?
A: They have three (3) courses of action:
Step No. 1 – Make application to the Office of the Real Estate Assessor for review.
Step No. 2 – Make application to the Board of Equalization. Such application must contain evidence that the property is valued at more than its fair market value or that the assessment is not uniform in its application and was not arrived at in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practices, procedures, rules and standards as prescribed by nationally recognized professional appraisal organizations such as the International Association of Assessing Officers and applicable Virginia law relating to valuation of property.
Step No. 3 – File a petition with the Circuit Court.
A taxpayer may use any or all of these appeal methods, subject to certain time limits.
To provide fair and equitable appraisal of real estate for assessment purposes to the citizens and property owners of Chesapeake through effective professional personnel, innovative technology and application of reliable consistent procedures.