Through our efforts of informing Buncombe County about Reappraisal 2021 so far, we have received many questions from community members. So, we decided to compile them into this FAQ. Do you have more questions that aren’t covered here? You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, visit buncombecounty.org/MyValue2021 for everything you need to know about the reappraisal process.
WHY IS BUNCOMBE COUNTY REAPPRAISING PROPERTY?
North Carolina law requires counties to reappraise all real property once every eight years but also allows Counties to advance the reappraisal to less than eight years. Buncombe County Commissioners voted to conduct reappraisals every four years. The county must assess 127,000 parcels. The effective date of the reappraisal is Jan. 1, 2021.
WHY IS THE REAPPRAISAL CYCLE BEING SHORTENED FROM EIGHT YEARS?
An eight-year cycle, for a fast-growing county like Buncombe, creates more opportunity for inequities to grow and usually leads to much larger and unpredictable changes to property values. As the inequities increase, the tax burden on individual property owners becomes unfair. Reappraisal assures every property owner they are only paying their fair share.
HOW DOES REAPPRAISAL BENEFIT PROPERTY OWNERS?
Property taxes are based on property values. Without periodic reappraisals, some property owners would pay relatively more while others would pay relatively less. Reappraisal resets property values to their current market value so that the property tax burden is equalized for all taxpayers.
HOW DOES THE ASSESSOR ESTABLISH THE VALUE?
Buncombe County uses a “mass appraisal” process that groups similar properties together based on location, type of construction, age, replacement cost, advantages and disadvantages, zoning and other factors. For property such as apartments or offices, the assessor may base the value on net operating income. The market approach takes into account an arm’s length sale of similar properties.
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF YOUR APPRAISERS? HOW ARE THEY TRAINED?
All Buncombe County appraisal staff are certified to perform property tax appraisals by the NC Department of Revenue. The Property Assessor’s office staff is both well-trained and professional, with decades of combined experience. Our appraisers must pass a series of educational courses and a comprehensive examination to meet certification requirements. They also have ongoing educational and training requirements
WHAT IS MARKET VALUE?
Market value is the most probable price a property would bring in an open and competitive market. The Buncombe County Property Assessor does not create market value; rather, we analyze the patterns and trends of the local real estate market and use that information to estimate market values for all properties.
WHY IS THERE SUCH A BIG CHANGE IN MY VALUE FROM LAST REAPPRAISAL IN 2020?
Remember that the tax value used for 2020 was actually the appraised value from the last reappraisal in 2017. Over the past four years, some property values have gone up or down significantly.
IS THERE A LIMIT ON HOW MUCH MY VALUE CAN CHANGE IN A REAPPRAISAL YEAR?
No. Whenever a county has a general reappraisal, North Carolina law requires every property to be appraised at its fair market value, even if the value has changed substantially
HOW ARE APPRAISAL AND TAXATION RELATED?
Appraisal and taxation are separate issues. The County Property Assessor determines the market value, but the county tax rate has no impact on the valuation process. Each taxing jurisdiction—the county commissioners, city council, etc.—establishes its own tax rate. The final tax bill cannot be determined until these rates are set
WHEN WILL I GET MY VALUE NOTICE?
Typically, the value notices are mailed on February 1st.
WHEN WILL I GET MY TAX BILL?
The bills are mailed in August and become due on Sept. 1, 2021. Property owners have until Jan. 5, 2022, to pay the property tax bill without interest.
WILL MY TAX BILL CHANGE?
Not necessarily. The annual tax bill for each property is calculated by multiplying the tax value by the tax rate, which is determined each year by each taxing jurisdiction—the county commissioners, city council, etc. Some tax bills will go up, some will go down, and some will stay about the same.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT MY TAX BILL WILL BE?
The Board of County Commissioners will set the tax rate June 2021. Property owners will not know the tax amount due until the tax rate has been established. The tax rate is not set by the Property Assessor. The rate can only be established by the Board of Commissioners. The rate will be established based on the budget and revenue needed to cover that budget.
CAN I APPEAL?
Yes. The first step is to file an informal appeal using the form included in your Notice of Reappraisal or online. After an appraiser reviews the informal appeal, the Property Assessor’s office will mail the result to the property owner. An appeal could result in the value “being left unchanged, reduced or increased.” The next step if the property owner is unsatisfied is to file a Formal Appeal with the county Board of Equalization & Review. The Board of Equalization & Review will meet as needed starting in April 2021. An appeal from the local board goes to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission. Appeals from the state Tax Commission go to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court.
DO I HAVE TO SUPPLY COMPARABLE SALES FOR MY APPEAL?
Yes, the appraisers reviewing your appeal will want to know how you arrived at your value estimate. Most taxpayers appealing residential values will want to provide comparable sales ("comps"). If there are unique circumstances pertaining to your home, other documentation may be more relevant. Examples would include a house with extensive damage (beyond normal wear and tear), or a vacant lot that does not perk.
WHAT ARE VALID REASONS TO APPEAL THE MARKET VALUE?
1. The market value on your notice substantially exceeds the actual market value of the property.
2. The market value is inconsistent with the market value of similar properties within your neighborhood.
WHAT ARE INVALID REASONS TO APPEAL THE MARKET VALUE?
1. The market value increased too much compared to the 2017 market value.
2. The owner can't afford to pay the taxes.
3. The market value is more than the construction cost.
4. The market value is more than the insurance value.
5. The market value is just too high.
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE TO APPEAL?
Requests for informal review should be filed within 30 days of the date of the Notice of Reappraisal. This will give appraisal staff time to work with property owners in resolving their concerns prior to the Board of Equalization and Review convening. The absolute last day to file an appeal to the Board of Equalization will be April 2021 (exact day in April TBD).
DO I HAVE TO BE PRESENT AT MY BOE HEARING?
You are not required to attend your hearing but it is recommended. Due to the current situation with COVID the County we make an effort to conduct virtual meetings when requested.
The Board will be presented with a copy of your appeal any supporting documents you have submitted, along with information submitted by a County appraiser., The Board will review this information and make on decision even if you do not appear in person.
HOW DO ONLINE APPEALS WORK?
The online appeals system will walk you through the process step-by-step, asking some basic questions that will help in reviewing your value. These are the same questions that appear on the paper applications. You will have the opportunity to research and attach comparable sales to your appeal, and upload supporting documents.
WHY DOES MY VALUE DIFFER FROM THAT SHOWN ON INTERNET SITES LIKE ZILLOW?
Our appraisers spend a substantial amount of time qualifying all sales used to develop property values. Automated valuation models, or 'AVMs' such as those used by sites like Zillow or Trulia, do not research sales to determine if they meet requirements for qualification. These sites also do not have knowledge of local market variations.
WHAT DOES "REVENUE-NEUTRAL" MEAN? WILL MY TAX BILL STAY THE SAME?
The term "revenue-neutral" is often misunderstood. It is a budget term that means revenue brought in by property taxes in a revaluation year would be about the same as if the revaluation had not taken place. It does not mean that any particular tax bill will be the same as the previous year.