Assessments are required by the Code of Virginia and the City of Waynesboro to be at 100% fair market value.
Market value is defined as the most probable price, expressed in terms of money, that a property would bring if exposed for sale on the open market. The sale should be an arms length transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer, both of whom are knowledgeable concerning all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.
Biennially the Assessor's Office appraises all real property in the city to determine values for tax purposes. The assessments are effective January 1 of each odd year. Change of assessment notices are mailed annually around February 1.
The appraisal staff inspects properties and gathers information that is pertinent to value, type and quality of construction, square footage, type of heat, baths, fireplaces, location, etc. This information is maintained and kept on file in the Assessor's Office. The information is a matter of public record and may be reviewed at any time.
Residential properties are appraised by the market approach. In this approach, the value is obtained by comparing similar properties of the same type and class which have sold recently in the same neighborhood, taking into consideration factors which may affect value such as location, condition, size, etc. Recent sale prices in your neighborhood determine what your assessment will be. Each sale is examined closely to determine if the transaction was an arms length transaction. On average, about 80% of the properties that sell in the city are considered arms length sales. Sales that would not be considered arms length are bank foreclosures, auctions, sales between family members, condemnations, sales due to divorces, and tenant buying from owner, etc.
If there are no recent sales in a certain area the assessor has to use sales from a comparable area to determine values. Areas that the assessor compares your property to are similar in location, price range, and style of homes. This situation rarely occurs due to the number of properties that sell each year in the city.
When the market values in your neighborhood change, so does the assessed value. For instance, if homes in your area are selling at prices above their assessed values the assessments will likely increase. However, if homes in your area are selling below their assessed values they will likely decrease.
The assessment / appraisal business is not an exact science. The assessor does not get the opportunity to go in every home when assessments are made. In today's world most people are working when the assessor comes around, therefore, most assessments are based on exterior inspections. The assessor tries to monitor each property so that assessments are fair and equitable and not in excess of market value.
Once the assessments are mailed, you as a property owner have 20 business days to appeal the assessment, by either calling or visiting the Real Estate Assessor's Office in City Hall. You may speak to an appraiser, review the data used in computing the assessment, and, if necessary, schedule an inspection of the property.
After this, should a dispute still exist, you may appeal to the Board of Equalization. The three-person board, appointed by the Circuit Court, is composed of city property owners. The board may affirm, reduce, or raise the assessment, if in their opinion such adjustments are necessary to equalize the tax burden upon all citizens in the city.
If you are dissatisfied with the board's decision, you may appeal to the Circuit Court. If you have assessment questions please call the Assessor's Office at 540-942-6722.