Prince Edward supervisors vote to speed up property reassessment

Published 3:09 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2022

FARMVILLE – Residents of Prince Edward County will see their real estate values change faster than expected. During their Tuesday, Oct. 11 meeting, the board of supervisors unanimously voted to move the county from a six year to a four year property reassessment cycle. That means even though the county just had one in 2020, expect another in 2024. 

The Code of Virginia requires that counties and independent cities reassess property values every four years. But there is an exception. If the city or county has a population of 50,000 or less, then those reassessments can get pushed back, only performed every five to six years. Prince Edward County is currently in a six year cycle, approved by the state because as of the 2020 Census, the county has 21,849 residents. 

The problem with pushing the reassessments back so far is that the county can’t keep up with the market. Some properties will have increased in value in between reassessments, while others may have decreased or stayed the same. And that’s where Prince Edward County currently finds itself. 

“Due to the volatility of the real estate market, the county’s assessed values have already dropped to 85% of current market value,” said Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley. He told supervisors that even less than two years removed from the last reassessment, the values weren’t accurate. 

“The average home value has increased about 15% over top of what your assessment is,” he explained. That’s why he recommended increasing how often assessments happen. “Moving to a four-year cycle will help lessen the gap between assessed values and current market values.”

Why change property reassessment schedules?

So why push for a change now? Because it takes time to plan and organize an assessment. 

“We would have to start our field work next summer, to be ready for (a) January 1, 2025 timeframe,” Stanley explained. 

To determine property value, staff consider a number of factors. They look at location, construction cost, quality of construction and condition of the buildings. This data is then compared, for assessment purposes, with the various properties in different neighborhoods throughout the county.

Under a four year cycle, property assessments would take place in 2024, with the new values taking effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

How will this affect my taxes? 

The important part to note here is that a reassessment doesn’t mean your property tax will go up or down. The tax rates are set by supervisors each year during the budget process. Virginia state law requires that in order to stay “flat”, counties and cities have to adjust their tax rate based on the increase (or decrease) in assessments. In a previous interview with The Herald, Stanley gave a good example of what this looks like. 

“If the final average increase in assessments was 10%, then the county would have to adjust the real estate tax rate from 51 cents per $100 of assessed value to 46 cents per $100 of assessed value,” he said. “If the Board of Supervisors decides to increase the tax rate above the equalized amount for 2021, they have to advertise that increase as a tax increase.”