Assessment Frequently Asked Questions
All real property, commonly known as real estate, is assessed. Real property is defined as land and any permanent structures attached to it. Some examples of real property are houses, gas stations, office buildings, vacant land, shopping centers, apartment buildings, and restaurants.
Before assessing any parcel of property, the assessor estimates its market value. Market value is how much a property would sell for, in an open market, under normal conditions. To estimate market values, the assessor must be familiar with all aspects of the local real estate market. A property’s value can be estimated in three different ways:
1. Market approach -The property is compared to others similar to it that have sold recently, using only sales where the buyer and seller both acted without undue pressure.
2. Cost approach- Calculate what the property would cost, using today’s labor and material prices, to replace the structure with a similar one. This method is used to value special purpose and utility properties.
3. Income approach – Analyze how much income a property, like an apartment building, a store, or a factory, will produce if rented. Operating expenses, insurance, maintenance costs, financing terms, and how much money owners expect to make on this type of property are considered. Once the assessor estimates the market value of a property, its assessment is calculated. New York State law provides that all property within a municipality be assessed at a uniform percentage of market value. Everyone pays his or her fair share of taxes as long as every property in a locality is assessed at the same percentage of value.
The assessor is continually communicating with the public, answering questions, and dealing with concerns raised by taxpayers. Anyone can examine the assessment roll and property records at any time.
It is up to individual property owners to monitor their own assessments. Taxpayers who feel they are not being fairly assessed should meet with their assessor before the tentative assessment roll is established. In an informal setting the assessor can explain how the assessment was determined and the rationale behind it.
Assessors are interested only in fairly assessing property in their assessing unit. If your assessment is correct and your tax bill still seems too high, the assessor cannot change that. Complaints to the assessor must be about how property is assessed.
Informal meetings with assessors to resolve assessment questions about the next assessment roll can take place throughout the year. If, after speaking with your assessor, you still feel you are unfairly assessed, ask for the booklet, How to File a Complaint on Your Assessment. It describes how to prepare and file a complaint with the Board of Assessment Review for an assessment reduction and indicates the time of year it can be done. To learn more about the assessment process, please call the Assessor at 366-9836.