The City of Falls Church released its initial real estate assessment data this Tuesday, reflecting overall an increase in values of 3.4 percent, led by a 4.66-percent increase in the values of single family homes in the City and a 3.57-percent increase for commercial property values.
By contrast to these hefty increases, multi-family residential values declined by 0.61 percent and townhouses on average rose by a more modest 2.62 percent and residential condominiums by 1.67 percent.
F.C. City Manager Wyatt Shields told the News-Press that the assessments were within range of what City Hall has expected. Predictions made when Shields and the F.C. City Council convened in November to set budget parameters for the coming fiscal year were that assessments overall would show a 3.0- to 3.5-percent increase.
For property owners, rising assessments, while nowhere near the rates of growth of the period leading up to the Great Recession a dozen years ago, always represent a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the tax rate the City Council will establish in April for the coming fiscal year (running this July 1 to the next June 30, 2019) will be calculated against a higher assessment, meaning that property taxes will rise by that amount. On the other hand, the increase in assessments mean that the value of the property will be that much higher, as well, for purposes of borrowing against or selling a property.
This year, while single family home assessments have risen on average by 4.66 percent, a lot of the increase is based in $33.9 million of new construction, meaning new homes and improvements arising from that new construction are where the increases will be born.
Individual property owners will be mailed their individual assessments before the end of the month, according to City Hall.
The only significant modification to City Hall expectations at this time is related to the delay in the construction of the 4.3-acre Founder’s Row project at the intersection of W. Broad and N. West Street. But anticipated revenue from that was expected, at this stage, to have involved only permit fees, and not property tax revenues.
The total taxable assessed value for all properties in the City as of Jan. 1 this year was at $4.1 billion, a 3.4-percent increase over a year earlier. New construction, valued at $36.1 million, accounted for 26.5 percent of the increase, with market appreciation accounting for the remainder. Residential new construction accounted for $33.9 million of the growth, and commercial for only $2.2 million.
According to the City’s release, real estate is assessed at 100 percent of fair market value as mandated by the state constitution. Falls Church Real Estate Assessor Ryan Davis calculates property values annually using “mass appraisal techniques” that are standard in the real estate assessment industry.
Public hearings on the budget will be held on March 26, April 9, and April 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Center.
After evaluating the assessments, according to the City, homeowners wondering if their assessment is correct should ask the question, “Would my home sell for the assessed value if I put it on the market?” If the answer is “yes,” the assessment is probably accurate. If the answer is “no,” citizens are urged to contact the Office of Real Estate Assessment. Deadlines for assessment appeals are Friday, March 23, 2018, for an Office of Real Estate Assessment review and Friday, June 1, 2018 for a Board of Equalization review.