On Jan. 1, 2021, every real property owner in Buncombe County will receive a new assessed value. You’re probably thinking, “Great, you’re telling me my taxes are going up.” We understand that is an initial response to the reappraisal process, but we want to assure you the overall goal is to increase equity and fairness by making assessments more uniform across the County. We know, that might sound like nonsense, but bear with us for a bit, and we’ll explain it in a painless and digestible way.
Didn’t we just do this? Why are we doing it again?
The last reappraisal was in 2017, meaning there will be a four-year span between reappraisals. North Carolina law mandates a reappraisal takes place at least every eight years, but external factors can dictate that it’s mandatory or prudent to do so sooner. In our case, County Commissioners moved forward with a 2021 reappraisal because:
- Projected sales ratio would drop below 85% which would trigger a mandatory reappraisal.
- Inequity in assessments due to appreciating market.
- Maintain public service revenue.
What does the above mean in plain English? Some of y’all are paying more than your fair share of taxes due to discrepancies between assessed values and market values. Here’s how that happens:
- Home 1 sells for $320,000 and is assessed at $205,100, meaning Home 1 pays tax on 64% of market value.
- Home 2 sells for $325,000 and is assessed at $295,300, meaning Home 2 pays tax on 91% of market value.
As you can see, not everyone is paying an equitable amount of what their property is worth, especially in a fast-paced housing market like Buncombe County. The reappraisal brings everyone back in line with market value creating countywide equity.
Decades ago, our state lawmakers implemented an ad-valorem tax system (ad-valorem is Latin for “as to value”). The intent is to have property owners pay tax based on the value of the property. For example, if you have the financial means to purchase a $100,000 property then you are likely to have the ability to pay the associated tax burden as it’s relevant to your income status. This has been deemed as the fairest way to collect tax. It should also be noted that Buncombe County does not create local tax laws, we are mandated to follow procedures laid out by state lawmakers.
And just a reminder, your Buncombe County Tax Department does not set the tax rate. After the reappraisal, Commissioners will decide what to do with the tax rate based on the new assessed values.
How do you decide how much my property is worth?
It’s a touchy subject, we know. Your property currently has a value based on the 2017 reappraisal. In order to arrive at your 2021 value our highly trained appraisal team uses multiple methods in order to arrive at the fairest market value:
- Desktop review: Appraisers use technology available for review and verification of data.
- Full measure and list: Appraisers measure every improvement on the property and verifies interior data.
- Walk around: Appraisers complete a physical walk around and gather only data that may need updating.
- Street review: The appraiser drives by to take a quick look at the property. Street-level photography can replace this method.
In short, we are pairing technology with good old fashioned site visits to determine the current state of your property. Once we have gathered accurate data about your property, we study the sales transactions in and around your neighborhood to help determine your new property value. While the process is more complicated and nuanced, that’s the gist of how we will determine 2021 values.
OK, you’ve assessed my property but I disagree
We want to hear from you because you know your property better than anyone else, and that helps make our assessment as accurate as possible. After receiving a new assessment in 2021, you will be able to make informal appeals if you want to help us clarify anything we might have missed concerning your property.
- January-December (all of 2020): Establish new assessments for all real property.
- February: The Reappraisal Guide will be available and we will launch our public outreach campaign.
- August-September: Schedule of values, standards, and rules adopted by Board of Commissioners for reappraisal 2021. This document defines the methodology of reappraisal for the citizen review.
- January-February: New assessments will be mailed to every real property owner.
- February-April: Informal appeals process.
- March-April: Estimated taxable value for revenue estimates for all districts delivered to Budget Office. The estimate will be used to help Commissioners and the Budget Director determine the fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022) tax rate.
- April: The Board of Equalization and Review convenes for formal appeals.
- June: County Commissioners will establish the tax rate.
- August: Tax bills will be mailed to all property owners.
The process is just getting underway. As we progress, we will have more in-depth information and resources about:
- Technology and methodology used during reappraisals
- The appeals process
- Ways to see values of homes in your neighborhood
- Who to contact about your appraisal.
- Where to attend information sessions about reappraisal.
- How to schedule a speaker for your group.
- Where to find tutorial videos.
If you have any questions, you can reach the Property Assessor’s Office at (828) 250-4920.