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Real Estate Assessments Make Biggest Jump in 5 Years

The City of Falls Church released its overview of real estate assessments as of Jan. 1, 2020 Tuesday, and for the 10th straight year, the overall value is well above three percent, this time at a solid 3.89 percent, the biggest jump in five years.

According to the City in a press release issued Tuesday, the total taxable assessed value for all properties in the city, as of Jan. 1, 2020, is $4,450,079,500 ($4.45 billion), a 3.89 percent increase from Jan. 1, 2019. New construction (valued at $47.6 million) accounts for 28.57 percent of the increase in assessed value in the City, and market appreciation accounts for the remainder.

City Manager Wyatt Shields, in comments to the News-Press Wednesday, said, “For the 10th straight year, rising assessments here have enjoyed new construction as a significant component, the result of both business and homeowners investing in the City.”

The jump of 3.89 percent was significantly above the 3.35 percent jump of a year ago as the entire region has enjoyed the so-called Amazon Effect based on the anticipation of a major second campus location for Amazon in south Arlington.

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Released last month, Arlington County’s overall real estate assessment growth has been 4.6 percent, and the City of Alexandria’s, announced earlier this week, is at 4.25 percent. Fairfax County, which grew in real estate assessed values by 2.36 percent a year ago, has not yet released its data for 2020 assessments.

In the case of Falls Church, the consistent interest in the City as a destination for major large-scale mixed use projects has been a huge factor in its revenue growth, leading to a cumulative growth in assessed values of over 20 percent since 2015.

This trend is expected to continue, with the 10.3-acre West End Gateway project set to commence next January and the Insight Property’s 2.8-acre Broad and Washington project on the move, and the Mill Creek’s 4.3-acre Founders Row project currently under construction.

The City’s Economic Development Office indicates there continues to be significant interest in combining some vacated parcels on West Broad, and the Beyer Automotive assembly of properties at the City’s West End is moving with deliberate speed toward a project proposal, Mike Beyer told the News-Press recently. A new showroom building is currently under construction on the site.

Meanwhile, on the fringes of the City, Virginia Tech has undertaken a major planning effort for the expansion of its site adjacent to the City on Haycock Road, and WMATA is doing the same thing for its West Falls Church Metro station site. Those would be expected to have major “spillover” impacts on the City.

Assessments of individual properties in the City of Falls Church will be mailed to property owners in late February, and updated assessment information will be posted on the City website by Tuesday, Feb. 18, according to F.C. City officials.

The new assessments, which will form the basis for tax collections beginning in July after the City Council sets the tax rate for the coming fiscal year. That will happen with the adoption of the FY21 budget at the end of April, with a revision, if necessary, of the current rate of $1.355 per $100 of assessed valuation.

With this week’s announcement, residential new construction accounted for $21.3 million of growth; commercial new construction account for $26.3 million of growth.

Overall commercial property values increased 5.98 percent since January 2019 and multi-family property values increased 3.11 percent; overall residential real estate values increased 3.42 percent over the last year.
Single family home and townhomes had varying changes but overall were up 3.83 percent and 3.74 percent respectively; and residential condominiums had varying changes but overall increased 1.31 percent.

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The City press release reiterated that, as set forth in the Virginia Constitution, real estate is assessed at 100 percent of fair market value. The City’s Office of Real Estate Assessment calculates property value annually using mass appraisal techniques that are standard in the real estate assessment industry.

The notice of assessment is an appraisal of the fair market value of the property; it is not a tax bill. Property tax payments will be due in two installments on Dec.7, 2020 and June 7, 2021; property owners will receive bills prior to these dates.

The real estate tax rate will be determined on April 27 when the Falls Church City Council adopts the Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Budget and Capital Improvements Program and sets the tax rate. Fiscal Year 2021 Proposed Budget will be presented to City Council on March 9. Public hearings on the budget will be held on March 23 and April 13, with anticipated adoption on April 27. Individual assessments are mailed in late February. After evaluating the assessment, 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,” contact the Office of Real Estate Assessment.

Deadlines for assessment appeals are Friday, April 3, 2020, for an Office of Real Estate Assessment review and Friday, June 5, 2020 for a Board of Equalization review.

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