Each January, the County’s Department of Real Estate Assessments mails notices of assessment to each property owner in Arlington, which state:
- the current year’s and prior year’s assessments for the property,
- information about deadlines for contesting the assessments,
- how to contact the assessor’s office.
Assessments are made at 100% of value, so there is a direct relationship between the assessed value and the price for which a property would sell.
Single Family Homes
- County appraisers review sales within each neighborhood and compare similar sold properties to similar unsold properties to develop estimates of typical value for each property in the area.
- A computer-assisted mass appraisal system generates an estimate of the cost to replace each structure in the neighborhood.
- Deductions are made to account for the age and condition of the structure.
- The replacement cost is added to the land value for an indicated total property value.
Land values are determined from:
- sales of vacant parcels or improved property sales that were purchased for land value and/or
- estimating the proportionate share of value contributed by the land in improved property sales
For most properties, land is assessed on a per site basis, recognizing that larger or smaller lots do not proportionately increase or decrease from typical market values.
Residential assessments are based on neighborhood sales occurring during the fiscal year (July 1 through August 30) with emphasis on the sales from Jan. – June.
- if a property sells for $400,000. Arlington’s estimate of land value is $200,000, its estimate of building value is $160,000, and the resultant total value is $360,000.
- Comparing $360,000 to $400,000 shows that the level of estimated value is 90% of the sale price (360,000 / 400,000 = 90%). If the building value is factored by 1.25, the estimated value equals the sale price.
- By examining each sale in a neighborhood, the appraiser determines a common or average factor that is applied to all buildings in the neighborhood.
- For each property in the neighborhood, assessments are calculated by adding the land value and the adjusted replacement cost of the building.
- More than one factor may be used for a neighborhood where there are extreme differences in the housing stock, but the factors are applied to common groups of properties.
- As with single family homes, County appraisers rely on recent sales as the bases for the assessments, using sales from July 1 through August 30, with emphasis on those sales from Jan. – June.
- Each condominium project is treated as a separate neighborhood. Instead of using a generated replacement cost, formulas account for living area size, number of baths, floor height, views, parking spaces, etc. within the condominium project to estimate value.
- These estimates of value are compared to the recent sale prices in the condominium project to determine appropriate factors to adjust the values to the sale prices. Common factors are applied to all properties in the condominium to determine the assessed values.
- A portion of the assessed value is allocated to the building component and a portion is allocated to the land component, as required by Virginia Law.
Whether a traditional detached house, a townhouse, or a condominium unit, ultimately, an assessment should reflect market value and be equitable with comparable properties. The best way to judge the assessment of your property is to compare it to recent sales and to compare it to the assessments of surrounding properties. Since all real estate assessments are a matter of public record, it is a fairly easy task.
Find property assessments & list of recent sales
Online: Property Data Search site
In person: Courthouse Plaza in Suite 611, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., M-F
Call: 703-228-3920 to speak with the appraiser assigned to your neighborhood