County Assessor Peter Lynch presented data on the 2024 reassessment of property values in Albemarle County on January 17 before the county Board of Supervisors. Lynch’s department is responsible for assessing the value of all real estate property each year by examining sales price trends over the prior year. The updated values are used to calculate property owners’ real estate taxes owed. This year’s tax base increase averaged 4.07% overall, down from the dramatic high of 13.5% last year and 8% the year before.
“The period from 2009 to 2013 was during the financial crisis, so assessments were going down during those years,” said Lynch, “and then we had a gradual recovery over a number of years [2014-2021], and in the last couple of years we had some very large increases. Luckily for me, it makes our job a little easier when those increases aren’t so large.”
Lynch said that 2023 residential sales data is used to determine the 2024 assessments. “This year there was a little bit lower number of sales recorded, down 300 sales last year and 200 this year, but while sales volume is down the values have been rising [which is why assessments are up],” he said. Looking at single family residential property countywide, the largest percent change in assessments was in properties valued between $1 and $2 million (5.3%), while the smallest change was among those in the $250,000 to $450,000 range (2.8%).
Lynch used the overall median home value an example of the impact the increase in assessed values will have on homeowners: A home valued at $453,000, whose assessed value increased by 3.9% (average for that value range), will cost $146.03 more in taxes in 2024 (at the same tax rate as last year). As another example, a $150,000 home that increased in value by 4.4% will cost $53.80 more in real estate taxes next year with the same tax rate.
Of the six magisterial districts in the county, White Hall District had the smallest average property value change of any district at 2.5%. The Town of Scottsville had the biggest jump at 10.3%. Lynch’s chart on these changes also noted that White Hall has the largest parcel count (10,027) of any district in the county, while Scottsville has the smallest (348).
When broken down by state property class, apartment complex owners had the biggest value increase at 5.6%, a tax cost that is often passed through to tenants via increased rents. Rural land owners of 100 acres or more saw the smallest increase at 1.1%. Lynch displayed a bar graph that described the percentage of property owners that would experience varying levels of value increases. The graph showed that 32% of homeowners will see an increase of between 5 and 15%, while 58% of owners will see a change ranging from a 5% decrease to a 5% increase.
Property Valued Under Land Use Rules
“‘Land use’” is the preservation of land through the restriction of development,” said Lynch. “So, for example, when land is zoned as ‘rural area,’ it receives a lower valuation by the county assessors than the same land would receive if it was available to be built upon or developed. The whole point of the land use program is to maintain qualified uses on a property so that it qualifies for a lower assessment and to protect that land from being developed.” Categories of land use that may qualify under specific circumstances include agricultural, horticultural, forest, and open space.
Sometimes properties under land use valuation lose their qualification—as when, for instance, a farmer stops farming the land. “If the use changes to a nonqualified use, the property is rolled back and the taxes are recovered,” said Lynch. “2023 was a revalidation year, where owners had to prove their property was still qualified for the program. As a result, the number of parcels under the land use program dropped from 3,938 to 3,744. However, the value of those parcels in total still went up, because [in general] values continued to climb.”
Land Use value parcels and value deferred (Chart: Albemarle County)The difference between a property’s value when it is in land use and is not is called the “deferred value”—meaning its real value is “deferred” until such time as it becomes available to develop. That deferred value can be shown as deferred taxes—taxes the county is not collecting on that preserved land. Lynch showed that the county currently has 3,744 parcels in the land use program, with a total deferred value of $1.6 billion and deferred tax revenue of $14 million.
Important to note: Property owners received a notification in late January about their expected real estate tax bill amount. While that notification is not the final bill, any owner who wishes to request a review of their assessment (for example, to dispute the value) must submit a review form by February 28. Lynch emphasized, “Waiting until the taxes are due to request a review is too late.”
To access the review form, go to www.albemarle.org/government/finance/real-estate-tax-assessments, and find the form toward the bottom under Resources.