New Chatham Property Revaluation Notices in the Mail
Notices of new Chatham County real estate property values will be mailed to property owners starting February 23, 2017 and should arrive by the first of March. This is the first county tax revaluation since 2009.
IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT
Property owners should review the valuation notice carefully and promptly, because any request to appeal based on the value must be received by the Tax Office in writing within 30 days. More information on the grounds to appeal and how to appeal is below.
State law requires all counties to conduct revaluations of property at least every eight years, but many counties, especially fast-growth areas, are moving to a four-year cycle to keep taxes more equitable. Chatham County expects to return to a four-year cycle from this point forward.
“A common misperception is that if someone’s property values go up, their 2017 tax bill will be higher, but that is not necessarily true,” said Tax Administrator Kep Kepley. Annual tax bills are calculated based on both the value of the property and the tax rate set by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners and the towns’ elected officials.
Overall, tax values have changed countywide since the last revaluation eight years ago, but the actual change in value for each homeowner depends on trends within property’s neighborhood or community. “Some communities in the county had substantial growth in values, while others changed very little and a few even saw declines in value,” Kepley said.
While overall property values declined during the recession, most areas have recovered their value and some have actually increased. “NC General Statutes only allow property sales prior to January 1, 2017 to be considered for establishing the new assessed value,” said Kepley.
“It is important for property owners to know that some communities located in regions with increased property values may not have experienced the same increases,” Kepley said. “Each property’s value has been based on comparable values in their neighborhood or community, not trends in the larger area.”
Several of the most frequently asked revaluation questions received by the Tax Office are covered below:
What Is revaluation and why is it done?The State of North Carolina requires county revaluations at least every eight years. The purpose of revaluation is NOT to increase revenue. It helps ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the tax burden. Revaluation updates assessed tax values so the values are consistent with current market value as of Jan. 1, 2017. It covers residential, commercial and industrial land and structures, but not personal property (motor vehicles, watercraft, aircraft, etc.).
How will revaluation affect your tax bill?A change in your property’s tax valuation does not mean that your tax bill will go up or down the same, or even change at all. The Board of Commissioners sets the tax rate before July 1, 2017, which will determine how much you actually owe for property taxes.
How were values determined?County appraisers analyze existing local property sales, construction costs, commercial income, location, trends and patterns to determine a specific property’s tax value, which is as close to true market value as possible. Only true market sales prior to Jan. 1, 2017 were analyzed, as required by state law. If there were no sales in your neighborhood, true market values in similar neighborhoods were used and adjusted for location and other variables. Expert appraisers then use the data collected and the Schedule of Values (see next question) to determine the valuation of each property. Each property should be appraised close to the value of similar properties in the area. True market value is the most likely value of a property, not necessarily the highest or lowest value. It also may not be the actual sales price. Instead, it is the price that would likely be paid by a willing buyer and seller, not under duress, with both having full knowledge of the property’s condition and uses. Foreclosures, short sales, lending agency sales from foreclosures, relocation agencies, auctions, family sales and such options are NOT true market sales.
What is the Schedule of Values?The Schedule of Values is a set of rules, standards, laws, tables and guidelines used by appraisers to decide on the tax value for each property. For the 2017 revaluation, a contracted vendor developed the Schedule of Values from data collected from many sources, such as qualified sales and market trends. Once developed, the Schedule of Values was approved by the Board of Commissioners on November 17, 2016.
Why do some values vary within the same neighborhood?Parcels near each other may have different values or varied changes in values due to several factors, including access, permitted uses, size, age, condition, remodeling, materials used, etc. The percentage change in value also may vary for the same reasons.
What are valid reasons to appeal the new valuation?
A property owner, attorney (licensed in NC) representing the owner, a general partner, officer of a corporation (if owner is incorporated) or any taxpayer may file an appeal of the new valuation. Property owners may appeal if they believe the valuation:
- Has been based on an arbitrary assessment method
- Has been developed using an illegal tax method
- Substantially exceeds the true value of the property
- Reflects an inconsistent value compared to the market value of similar properties within the neighborhood.
What are invalid reasons for appeals?
The following factors are NOT legally valid reasons for appealing new valuations:
- Disagreement with the market value, the percentage change in value, or the specific increase or decrease in value compared to the last appraisal.
- The impact or potential impact of the new valuation on taxes owed, ability to pay taxes, and insured amount of property.
- Advertised sales price, loan amounts, purchase price and paid appraisals that were done after Jan. 1, 2017.
- Assessments that do NOT substantially exceed the tax valuation of similar properties within the neighborhood.
- Situations where market value exceeds construction costs.
How do property owners file an appeal?
Use the appeals form included with the mailed notice of new values contact the Chatham County Appraisal team at 919-542-8292.
What can be the result of an appeal?
The value may be increased, decreased or stay the same. The property will be reviewed and any incorrect information will be changed.
What are the steps of an appeal?
- Informal Appeal: This initial appeal is performed by a county appraiser.
- Formal Appeal: If not satisfied with the informal appeal, the next appeal is heard by the Board of Equalization and Review.
- NC Property Tax Commission: This body in Raleigh hears the next level of appeals.
- NC Court of Appeals: This is the final option for appeals.
What type of evidence should be presented at an appeal?
All evidence presented must have taken place before Jan. 1, 2017. Evidence includes such Items as: purchase price; paid appraisal; photos; settlements/HUD statement; comparable sales before Jan. 1, 2017 representing true market value; and property income and expense statements for the last three years it produced income. Attach all evidence to appeal form and return to the Tax Office. Any additional evidence may be brought in to Tax Office at time of appeal.
Who has the burden of proof in an appeal?
State law provides that tax assessments are presumed correct. The burden of proof is on the taxpayer to prove that the tax valuation is not correct.
Where can property owners view their tax records and view comparable values near their property?
The Tax Office maintains an online database of all properties and real estate records in Chatham County. It is found at http://ustaxdata.com/nc/chatham/
When must tax bills based on the new values be paid?
Tax bills will not be mailed to property owners until July 2017 and do not have to be paid in full until Jan. 5, 2018 without penalty.
What do I do if I have trouble paying my tax bill?
Some seniors (age 65+), persons permanently disabled and permanently disabled veterans that meet certain state requirements such as income, residency and qualified disability may be eligible for a property tax exemption or deferment program. More information can be found at www.chathamnc.org/taxrelief. Property owners also can set up installment payments of taxes. For additional information, call the Collections Office at 919-542-8260.