2024-07-17 7:16 PM

Assessments for F.C. Up 4.6%, Beating Expectations

“Due to market growth of residential properties and completion of new commercial projects,” summary numbers for real estate assessments in the City of Falls Church jumped by 4.64 percent, 1.7 percent higher than projected, as released by City Hall yesterday.

Individual assessments won’t be mailed out until possibly the end of March, according to a City press release.

The total taxable assessed value for all properties in the City, as of January 1, 2023, is $5,329,726,700, an overall increase of ($236.11 million) or 4.64 percent from January 1, 2022, it was announced.

City Manager Wyatt Shields told the News-Press that the rise in assessments was about 1.7 percent higher than expected, due mostly to increases in commercial real estate values. He noted that commercial values were higher than for single family homes and townhouses for the first time in the City, due to the multifamily construction boom well underway and expected to continue that citizens can see from the number of construction cranes that are now hovering over the City’s 2.2 square miles.

Shields said the slightly higher than expected overall assessments will be used to address core issues already being discussed by the City Council, which are labor demand and inflation. 

Overall residential real estate values increased by 3.5 percent over the last year. Single family homes and townhomes had varying changes but overall were up 4.03 percent and 5.86 percent, respectively. Residential condominiums had varying changes but an overall decrease of one percent.

The overall increase, based on the work of F.C. Assessor Erwving Bailey, is far below the 11.42 percent increase that was announced a year ago and which led to a record number of appeals. Last year was Bailey’s first in the job, and assessments came after assessments for the previous two years rose by 2.7 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

Last year’s huge jump was attributed mostly to a big jump in sale prices, as  according to state law, assessments for purposes of taxation must be set at 100 percent of fair market value.  Bailey’s office calculates property value annually using “mass appraisal techniques that are standard in the real estate industry,” the City’s statement said. 

In the assessment overview that Bailey just released, overall commercial property values increased 7.67 percent since January 2022 and multi-family property values increased 32.12 percent over the last year largely due to new construction.

New construction (valued at $57.56 million) accounted for 24.4 percent of the increase in assessed value, residential new construction accounted for $10.15 million of growth and commercial new construction accounted for the remaining $47.41 million of growth.

It is based on the new assessments, as calculated annually, that the City government calculates the tax bills for individual property owners. From this week’s report, City Manager Wyatt Shields will develop his recommended budget for the coming fiscal year (beginning this July 1), including what he recommends what the residential tax rate ought to be.

It is now at $1.24 per $100 of assessed value, and the final decision on that will be voted on by the City Council in early May. That will include the level at which City programs, and the public schools, get funded in the Council’s adopted Fiscal Year 2024 Operating Budget and Capital Improvements Program.

Falls Church School Board is expected to formally adopt the budget it wants the City to fund at its meeting next Tuesday, and it is fully expected that its request will be fully met.

(Meanwhile, in adjacent giant Fairfax County, the manager’s proposed budget released this week calls for no tax rate increase, but with 7 percent rise in residential assessments, and a cut from the School Board’s proposed budget of $15 million.) 

Public hearings on Falls Church’s proposed budget, prior to the final May 8 vote, will be held on April 10, April 24 and May 8.

Tax bills from real estate owners based on the new budget will come due on Dec. 5, 2023 and June 4, 2024. The second payment on the current year’s billings is due this June.  

Individual assessments will be mailed in early March. After evaluating the assessment, those homeowners wondering if their assessment is correct should contact the Office of Real Estate Assessment at 703-248-5022 (TTY 711).

If there is a disagreement with an assessment, citizens can appeal to the assessor or to the Board of Equalization.

Deadlines for assessment appeals are Monday, April 17, 2023, for an Office of Real Estate Assessment review and Friday, June 2, 2023 for a Board of Equalization review.

As appeal reviews may not be complete prior to the Board of Equalization application deadline, if a property owner has not received their first level appeal results by May 19, 2023, they should file an appeal to the Board of Equalization to preserve their rights. 

Property owners must prove that their property’s market value is either inaccurate or unfair.  State law puts the burden of proof on the property owner to demonstrate that the assessment is incorrect.





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