The following information describes what revaluation is, why revaluation is done, how a revaluation is performed, and how it affects the typical property owner. We have attempted to answer most questions that arise concerning a revaluation, but you are invited to contact the Revaluation Office at (828) 465-8998 if you have further questions or need assistance.
Revaluation means that local tax officials are updating the value of all real property by determining the market value of all real property, as of the effective date of the revaluation. The most recent revaluation was effective January 1, 2015. Revaluation is required by the laws of the State of North Carolina.
As defined under North Carolina General Statute 105-283, market value is "the price estimated in terms of money at which the property would change hands between a willing and financially able buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used". Simply put, this means that when two parties trade property for money, both knowing what can and cannot be done with the property and an agreement on the price is reached and the trade occurs, then market value is established. Market value is generally determined from sales between unrelated and unbiased buyers and sellers.
Property values are not created or set by the appraiser or the tax office. People who buy and sell real estate in the open market establish market values. The appraiser's job is to diligently and carefully research and analyze those sales in our local market to determine an estimate of market value for all properties, as we are required to do by law.
Depending upon the data available and the type of property being appraised, there are several methods an appraiser may use to determine value:
- Sales Comparison Approach: This method, most commonly used, compares your property with similar properties that have sold recently.
- Cost Approach: This method determines how much it would cost to replace your property with a similar one, less any depreciation.
- Income Approach: This method determines the value of income-producing properties, such as apartments, based upon the amount of income the property or properties generate.
N. C. General Statute 105-286 requires each county to complete a property revaluation at least once every eight (8) years. The primary purpose of a revaluation is to equalize the tax burden among all classes of property. The 2015 revaluation in Catawba County was performed to ensure assessments reflect current market value and that taxation is fair and equitable for each of our citizens.
As an example of how values (and, as a result, the tax burden) can become skewed over a period of years, let's suppose two properties located in different areas of the county both had an established estimate of market value of $100,000 as of January 1, 2015. One property is located in a desirable neighborhood, and similar properties that have sold indicate an average annual rate of appreciation of 5%. The other property, located in a less desirable neighborhood, indicates an annual rate of appreciation of 2% for sales of similar properties. In only four (4) years’ time, the more desirable property would be worth $121,600 and the less desirable property would be worth $108,200, yet both owners are still paying the same amount of taxes (based upon $100,000 for both) unless a revaluation is conducted.
From this example, you can see that periodic revaluations help ensure a fair distribution of the tax burden among taxpayers.
The countywide revaluation is conducted by employees of Catawba County, not by an outside appraisal company. Our appraisers are veteran real property appraisers with more than 100 years of combined experience. Each appraiser on our revaluation staff is certified by the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the North Carolina Association of Assessing Officers.
There are a number of reasons for this. The primary one, as noted above, is that more frequent appraisals will recognize the fact that different properties increase or decrease in value at different rates. So the more frequently a revaluation is held, the more equitable the tax burden among property owners, since these properties that appreciate (or depreciate) at different rates are appraised at their current market value more often.
Additional reasons to advance the revaluation cycle are:
- It generally will reduce "sticker shock" for taxpayers. Values for residential properties are not apt to rise or fall as rapidly in a four-year cycle versus an eight-year cycle.
- The level of assessment between personal property and real property remains more equitable by conducting more frequent revaluations. Personal property is required by law to be appraised at 100% value every year; whereas, real property is only at 100% on the year of revaluation. The more years between revaluations, the more distorted the values on record become, therefore creating an inequity of the tax burden among taxpayers.
- Per N. C. General Statute 105-284(b), public service companies receive an automatic reduction in the fourth and seventh years following the last revaluation if the level of assessment drops below 90% as determined by the North Carolina Department of Revenue. That level of assessment becomes the percent of value on which the public service companies' tax bills are computed. Revaluation cycles of four years or less eliminates this revenue loss. Catawba County's revenue loss for years 1995 thru 1998 was $2,285,253.89. If the County can avoid losing this large amount of revenue by conducting more frequent revaluations, the Board of Commissioners is able to set a lower tax rate.
A more accurate future tax base and tax rates can be forecast with a reduced period between revaluations.
Revaluation is a lengthy process that takes over three years to complete. As part of the process, appraisers review information currently on the tax records about each property, and then visit the property to verify accuracy. The appraiser may or may not actually drive onto your property and come to your door, depending upon whether he or she sees a discrepancy in our current listing data.
This is difficult to say for two reasons. It depends upon:
- how much your property value has changed, and
- how much the tax rate changes. The Board of Commissioners set the tax rate annually, based upon the budgetary requirements of the County. Revenues received from all sources, including the State, are considered as the Board sets a tax rate.
Informal appeals will be held for property owners who question the new assessment mailed to them. Results of those appeals will be mailed to all appellants.
If your appeal is not resolved through the informal process, or if you decided to appeal for the first time, hearings before the local Board of Equalization and Review will be held. N. C. General Statute 105-290(e) stipulates that property owners have 30 days from the date the Board of Equalization and Review issues its decision to appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission. If still not resolved, appeals may be made to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
Appropriate information or documentation to appeal your new value should provide evidence to support why your property is not worth the new value and what you believe its value should be. Examples of evidence could include any of the following: a recent appraisal, current realtor listings, sales of similar properties, pictures of property that show poor interior conditions, and verification of any incorrect information that the County currently is using to describe your house such as number of baths, basement finish, etc.
Per N. C. General Statute 105-317, the Schedule of Values is a set of standards and rules specifically formulated by the Catawba County revaluation staff for appraising property in Catawba County. These standards and rules are really a voluminous "appraisal manual" which assures that all property will be appraised in a uniform, accurate and consistent manner. This Schedule of Values has been created following the County's study of the current real estate market, and it is used to set the new property values in the County.
The Schedule of Values is formally presented to the Board of Commissioners by the Catawba County Tax Assessor.N.C. General Statute 105-317 directs that "on the same day that they are submitted to the board (of commissioners) for its consideration, the assessor shall file a copy of the proposed schedules, standards, and rules in his office where they shall remain available for public inspection."
Each year, tax bills are normally mailed in July or early August and are due September 1. Taxpayers will have through January 5th of each year to pay before incurring a penalty.
No. The goal of the revaluation is to help ensure that all property owners in the county only pay his or her fair share based upon the value of their property. To keep the values constant over a long period of time creates inequity and, in effect, rewards the owners of more desirable properties (properties that have appreciated at a faster rate) at the expense of owners with less desirable properties.
N. C. General Statute 105-290(e) stipulates that property owners have 30 days from the date the Board of Equalization and Review issues its decision to appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission. If still not resolved, appeals may be made to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
Per N. C. General Statute 105-287 in a year in which a countywide reappraisal of real property in the county is not made, the property value shall not be increased or decreased until the next countywide revaluation for reasons other than physical/zoning changes to the property or if there is a clerical, mathematical error, or misapplication of county schedule of values in the listing of the property.
Examples of physical changes may be represented by new building construction, new improvements and remodeling, demolition of structures or features, and subdivision of land. Property values cannot be adjusted for normal physical depreciation or economic changes affecting the county in general.
An independent fee appraisal performed and dated after the January 1st date of the last countywide revaluation cannot be considered until the next countywide revaluation because the value was determined using market sales that occurred after the effective January 1st revaluation date.
If you have additional questions or need clarification on any aspect of the revaluation process, you may call the Catawba County Revaluation Office at (828) 465-8998.
- If you are 65 or older or totally and permanently disabled, qualify under the income requirements, and make a timely application, you may receive a reduced assessment on your residence. For more information or to apply, please call (828) 465-8401.
- If you are commercially growing timber, agricultural, or horticultural products, and submit a timely, qualifying application, you may receive a reduced assessment of your property. For more information or to apply, please call (828) 465-8421.