Frequently Asked Questions
The following are questions commonly asked about real estate assessments in the City of Alexandria and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions. You may reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail or in person at the Office of Real Estate Assessments, 301 King Street, City Hall, Room 2600, Alexandria, VA 22314. Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You may reach us by telephone at 703.746.4646.
Q. Why does the
assessment notice include prior year’s tax levies, and why is the percentage change
shown on the assessment notice different from the percentage change in assessed
A 2014 amendment to §58.1-3330(B) of
the Code of Virginia requires the disclosure of tax rate, tax levy, and percent
change from the previous year. Since the
tax rate is set by City Council after assessment notices are mailed, it is not
possible to show the tax rate or levy for the current year’s assessment. The percentage change shown reflects the
change in the tax levy, and not the change in assessed value. This information is not intended to replace
the tax bills which are mailed separately.
Q. How can I change my mailing address for assessment notices and tax bills?
Reqests for address changes for assessment notices and tax bills must be made in writing by the property owner(s) or an authorized agent. These requests may be submitted by e-mail, fax, mail, or in person. All requests should include the property address and the new mailing address.
Requests may be emailed to: email@example.com
or faxed to 703.706.3979
Requests may also be mailed or delivered in person during regular office hours to:
Office of Real Estate Assessments
301 King Street, Room 2600
Alexandria, VA 22314
If you are an authorized agent, please make sure to review the requirements for valid Letters of Authorization
prior to submitting a change of address request.
Q. What is my assessed value intended to reflect? Is it the sales price or some percentage of a sales price in my study group?
Your total assessed value should reflect 100% of fair market value of your property as of January 1. Alexandria utilizes mass appraisal methods in determining the fair market value of your property. Your assessment notice allocates a land value (as if vacant), and an improvement value. However, the total value as it appears on your notice is intended to be your property’s fair market value. Your tax burden is based upon “total” fair market value.
Assessments are based on large numbers of sales that are analyzed to determine values for large groups of properties. An individual sales price is the actual price a buyer pays for a particular property. While the sales price is one indicator of market value, there are numerous additional sales that are relied upon to determine your assessment. On your assessment notice you will find a "study group" number. This is a group of properties that we have analyzed to help you define the market value of your property and others within your same study group (i.e., assessment neighborhood).
Q. How do trends in real estate affect assessments?
General trends in property values are often discussed and written about. As part of the assessment process, the Office reviews data about real estate trends in the region and in the City. However, we rely primarily on data from the sales of properties similar to the group of properties that we are valuing. As part of these analyses, residential properties are all placed into study groups that are identified by a four-digit number. You will find your study group number on the first line of your assessment notice. The first two digits identify the Small Area Plan in which your property is located; the last two digits identify the properties the department determined are most comparable to yours. It is the sales of property in your study group that most affect the final value of your property. Commercial properties are more complex in nature than residential property. There are trends in the national marketplace and region that affect each class of commercial property. As with residential properties, while we consider information about trends in the commercial market, we primarily rely on income and expense data generated by commercial property owners in the City, regional sales data, and interviews with buyers and sellers of commercial property in Alexandria, and the Northern Virginia market as a whole.
Q. What affect does the economy have on my assessment?
Real property values and assessments in the City of Alexandria are performing similarly to those in other close-in Northern Virginia real estate markets. Commercial property values increased 7.78%, while residential properties posted a modest increase of 1.65%. The Washington area housing market has outperformed the national market, due to the significant number of high paying jobs that has fueled the demand for homes. In general, the residential and commercial markets in the City are in the recovery phase of the cycle and are trending towards expansion. Gains are expected to continue provided the national and local economies demonstrate signals of a sustained recovery, mortgage rates remain relatively low, and there are further reductions in the unemployment rate. Local economists agree that the pace of the recovery will be uneven, but renewed demand should continue to generate annual price gains in 2012. This more optimistic outlook is tempered by possible future federal austerity measures which could hinder the local real property recovery. Notwithstanding, the level of liquidity in U.S. capital markets improved considerably during 2011 sparked by renewed investor confidence. As competition for performing assets builds, prices will increase and capitalization rates will compress.
Q. How does the percentage change in my assessment compare to other properties?
The percentage change of your assessment will generally be close to the assessment change of other properties located in your study group. However, in many of the City's residential areas, especially where there are a variety of building sizes, styles and quality, assessment changes may fall within a range of percentages. Reasons for this include cases where properties have received improvements over the past year that would cause the assessment to change at a different percentage rate. Also, staff appraisers physically inspect a number of neighborhoods each year and occasionally make adjustments to property data based on what they observe during the course of their inspections.
Q. How does Alexandria compare to other parts of the state or to other Northern Virginia jurisdictions?
Assessment changes in Alexandria as of January 1, 2012 are comparable to those in the neighboring jurisdictions of Northern Virginia. Assessments in these jurisdictions also reflect sales prices seen in the real estate market during calendar year 2011.
Q. Is there a state law that prevents assessments from changing more than a certain amount each year?
The Constitution of Virginia requires that real estate assessments represent 100% of fair market value. There is no provision to limit the amount of change from year to year.
Q. How will I know if my assessment is correct? How do I find sales utilized to determine my January 1 assessment?
Review the physical characteristics of your property
for correctness and completeness. Next, you should view the sales relied upon to determine your assessed value. This will provide a list of the sales in your assessment neighborhood prior to January 1, 2014. You should find the sales of properties that are most similar to your property (i.e., style, location, age, and condition). Once you have located sales data you believe to be most comparable, compare the sales price and the assessed value of those properties to your own. The more similar the comparable property, the more likely the assessed values will be closely related.
Q. Should my assessment change be the same as what has been published in the newspaper for my zip code area in the recent past?
Newspapers often publish sales data in a summary format for large areas, such as by zip code, by city or by county. This information can show general trends in the market. However, these trends should not be compared to the percentage change in your January 1 assessed value. One reason for this is that the time period can fluctuate for the reporting of the data. The assessment office primarily relies on sales during the past calendar year within precise areas and of properties that are more similar in nature to your property. In addition, data reported by the sources noted above are typically averages, which imply a range of percentage change.
Q. If I find incorrect data on the website for my property, how do I ensure that these data are corrected?
The Office of Real Estate Assessments prides itself on maintaining accurate real estate data for the basis of the assessments for all property owners and for use by the public. Please notify us immediately if you note an error in your property information by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
, or by calling 703.746.4646.
Q. How much are my taxes going to be in 2014?
City Council will set the tax rate in May 2014.
Q. What were the tax rates for the last several years?
The tax rate in 2006 was $0.815 per $100 of assessed value, or 0.815%
The tax rate in 2007 was $0.83 per $100 of assessed value, or 0.83%.
The tax rate in 2008 was $0.845 per $100 of assessed value, or 0.845%.
The tax rate in 2009 was $0.903 per $100 of assessed value, or 0.903%.
The tax rate in 2010 was $0.978 per $100 of assessed value, or 0.978%.
The tax rate in 2011 and 2012 was $0.998 per $100 of assessed value, or 0.998%.
The tax rate in 2013 was $1.038 per $100 of assessed value, or 1.038%.
Q. What is the assessment ratio in the City of Alexandria?
All jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Virginia have mandated 100% ratios by law.
Q. My house is under construction and only partially complete. Why aren’t you waiting until it is complete to assess me?
The City assesses all real estate as it is on January 1st of each year. New construction that is not fit for occupancy, is assessed at a value reflecting the percentage of completion as of January 1 (e.g. 50%, 75%, etc.). Upon completion, it is assessed at its full value at the end of the month of completion.
Q. Can I use current year sales or listings as a basis for my Review of Assessment or Appeal of Assessment?
Real property assessments in the City of Alexandria are conducted annually and under state law are required to have a January 1 effective date of each calendar year. Therefore, the valuation of real property is conducted using closed and recorded property transfers that occurred during the previous calendar year. This methodology was affirmed by a recent advisory opinion issued by the Virginia Attorney General which concluded that, "the sale of real property after January 1 does not impact real property assessments for the current tax year." Therefore, it would be erroneous to use information subsequent to the effective date of valuation because it would reflect future market conditions that could not have been foreseen at the time of valuation. However, subsequent sales information may be used as evidence of the fair market value of the property during the annual assessment cycle that occurs after the date of the sale.