The following information describes what revaluation is, why revaluation is done, how a revaluation is performed, and how it affects the typical property owner.
Revaluation is a systematic (visual and analytical) review off all real property (land and improvements) performed by in-house county real property appraisers to update the assessed value to the current market value, as of the effective date of the revaluation. The most recent revaluation for Catawba County was effective January 1, 2019. Revaluation, currently by North Carolina state law, is required at least every eight (8) years.
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, the market value of a property reflects what a property would sell for when exposed to an open and competitive market at a price that most people would pay at that point in time. 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 appraisers' 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 state law.
Depending upon the data available and the type of property being appraised, there are three major valuation approaches 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. This method takes into account the effect that individual features have on the overall property value.
- Cost Approach: This method analyzes current construction cost, how much it would cost to replace your property with a similar one, less any depreciation (depending on age and condition), then adds in the market value of the land.
- Income Approach: This method applies when a property's intended use is to generate income from rents or leases. This approach determines a present value based on the future cash flow the owner can expect to receive.
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 2019 revaluation in Catawba County was conducted 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, 2019. One property is located in a highly sought after neighborhood, and similar properties that have sold indicate an average annual rate of appreciation of 5%. The other property, located in a neighborhood that has not seen a surge in sales, indicates an annual rate of appreciation of 2% for sales of similar properties. In only four (4) years’ time, the first property would be worth $121,600 and the second 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 appraisers on our revaluation staff who are certified by the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the North Carolina Association of Assessing Officers. There are no outside appraisal firms used to conduct any part of the countrywide revaluation.
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 frequent a revaluation, the more equitable the tax burden among property owners, since those 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 when conducting revaluations more frequently. 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 tax bill for the public service companies' is computed. Revaluation cycles of four years or less eliminates this revenue loss.
A more accurate future tax base and tax rate is forecast with a reduced period between revaluations.
Revaluation is a lengthy process. 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 the market value of your property 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. The definition of a revenue-neutral property tax rate in a year of a general reappraisal is defined in N.C. General Statute 159-11 (e).
The tax office will mail revaluation notices to property owners. For the most recent countywide revaluation in January of 2019, notices were mailed in December of 2018.
The informal appeals process is the first step for property owners, who question the new assessment mailed to them. During the informal appeal process, the property owner can relay their information and opinon of value in two different ways. The property owner can come in to speak with an appraiser, in person, regarding their property and the new assessed value. If the property owner, however, is unable or does not desire to come into our office, he/she can mail back the lower portion of their new assessment notice answering the questions that apply to the new value and reasons why the new value is not a reflection of the owner's opinion of value. Results, of either a change or no change, from these appeals are then mailed to all appellants.
If your appeal is not resolved through the informal process, or if the property owner decided to appeal for the first time after the informal appeal process has ended, hearings are scheduled before the local Board of Equalization and Review. The Board of Equalization and Review consists of a five (5) member board appointed by the Catawba County Commissioners. None of the members are employees of Catawba County Government. Similarly, results from these appeals are then mailed to all appellants,
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 are 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 assessed value and what you believe its current assessed value should be. Examples of information/documentation could include any of the following: a recent appraisal (dated within the effective time frame of the revaluation); sales of similar properties prior to revaluation; pictures of the property that show poor interior conditions and/or damages; and/or verification of any incorrect information that the County currently is using to describe your house such as square footage, number of bathrooms, 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 was created following the County's extensive 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 the following year to pay before incurring a deliquent 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 current market value of their property. To keep the values constant over a long period 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.
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) 465-8436.
- 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) 465-8426.
- 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.