If the next owner of your home will probably tear it down to build a brand new home, then you should carefully examine your 2019 Fairfax County Real Estate Assessment.
For many owners who live in Vienna, VA, they know the tear-down market is hot since today’s home buyers see the Town as an ideal place to live. Builders send postcards and investors drop notes offering to pay cash for their homes. The Money Magazine article which ranked Vienna a top place to live helped accelerate the teardown and infill rebuilding frenzy in our town.
The Vienna real estate market has really been a hotbed of tear-down and infill construction for twenty years. Now with Tysons expanding up and out, the Silver Line finished, the demand for older homes has intensified.
Ted appealed, so can you
Ted’s story started in early June at the annual neighborhood block
Ted (not his real name) was discussing the active tear-down market for homes in Vienna, and that his old neighbor’s house was probably going to get torn down too to build another new home. And, although he wasn’t moving anytime soon, his home was likely to get sold to a builder when he moves.
Thinking about the homes that had sold to builders and the conversation about the successful appeal, Ted realized that his Fairfax County real estate assessment did not accurately reflect market value in the very real Vienna tear-down market.
His assessment was too high.
Interestingly, most teardown properties are in good condition and are still attractive. What seals their fate is the issue is limited square footage which makes for small bedrooms, kitchens, and baths.
The reality is… the value is in the lot and the location.
Find three to four sold comps
Fairfax County uses actual real estate market sales prices when determining your annual tax assessment.
When Ted started to dig into his assessment comparing his home to comparable homes nearby that had sold to builders, he recognized that the values weren’t accurate and were often “unverified”, and he really should appeal to the tax office.
Where to start: If you want to do this then check out the links below, but understand you need to build a fact-based argument that they should take a second look at your home. The tax office is very busy and you (really) need to be prepared to present a professionally prepared position.
your homework first
So, what is a sold comp?
Comps are homes that have sold that are comparable to yours. And most of the tear-downs in Vienna are similar 1950’s or 1960’s homes.
You can’t use homes that sold this year, but going back to last year or even the year before will help your case. A good tip is to find a comp near your home, and not across town.
If you find a comp that sold to a builder, make sure the lot size is similar too. If your home sits on a quarter acre lot, make sure your comp didn’t sit on a half acre lot.
Do your homework because asking for a reassessment does require the county to conduct a “field inspection” of your home by a DTA appraiser to ensure that their data is accurate and verified.
Get three years of refunds
If you are successful, Fairfax County will retroactivey adjust your property assessment for the last three years.
In Ted’s case, he received refunds of over $850 for each year.
After you have done some preliminary research and you feel your request is worthy of review, call or email the Department of Tax Administration and discuss your findings with a staff member.