Most of the home buyers I work with in the Williamsburg Area will typically use the James City County, Williamsburg or York County Va assessed value as a basis when determining what price to offer on a home they are purchasing. While you would think its an accurate indicator the recent sales numbers will disagree. ( SEE THE CHART BELOW FOR PROOF)
Many consumers confuse assessments and appraisals. An assessment is the value placed on a property by the county or city’s assessor’s office for the purpose of determining the property taxes due. The city or county determines your assessed value and an appraiser determines your appraised value. In James City County property is assessed biannually by the Real Estate Assessments Division . Virginia State law requires that assessments be at 100 percent of fair market value. With reassessments only occurring every tow years it takes a while for them to catch up to market pricing.
An appraisal is a report done by an appraiser to determine value. The appraiser will use recently sold prices ( going back 90 days or a maximum of six months in some cases) of similar properties making adjustments for differences between the subject property and the comparable.
Assessed value and appraised value will usually not be exactly the same on a property as the appraised value takes a snapshot in time and will be impacted by market activity.
Below is a report for home sales in Governors Land, Williamsburg VA. It shows both the sold price and the James City County Assessed Value. You can see that sale prices ranged from 34% below assessed value to 34% above assessed value. With no rhyme, reason or formula between them.
One thing to consider, the James City County assessor has most likely NEVER been inside the home. A home in the upper price range could have drastic differences in trim, finish levels and upgrades. In many instances homes were sold with unfinished bonus rooms or basements. If homeowners finished then off later without permits the county will not factor that in to assessed value. Its common to see square footage errors in county records as well.
Before buying (or selling) it is wise to do some homework and look at what similar homes in the neighborhood sold for . A real estate agent ( ME) can supply you with detailed information on comparable sales and can give you a pretty good idea what homes are worth in your area.
Of course, the ultimate solution is to have an appraisal done by a professional appraiser. If you purchase a home the lender will require one. Our company orders them for all of our listings to insure we don’t have appraisal issues at closing. ( a common occurrence these days)