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JUST IN: Residential Assessments Rise 5 Percent, Office Values Fall

Personal property tax envelopeResidential real estate assessments for 2015 have risen 4.9 percent, Arlington County announced Friday morning.

Assessments county-wide rose 3.4 percent over 2014 values. The 4.9 percent rise in residential values (including condos, townhouses and single-family homes) was paired with a 4.7 percent rise in the assessments of existing apartment buildings.

Dragging down both was a 4.5 percent decline in existing office property assessments. Arlington County has been struggling with an office vacancy rate north of 20 percent.

“Arlington’s overall real estate market remains resilient,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “The strength of our residential market balances the tremendous pressures we see in the office building market due to the effects of BRAC and regional competition.”

Real estate assessments are being mailed to all Arlington property owners today. The 2015 assessments will also be posted online and made available at 11:00 tonight.

Unless the Arlington County Board decides to lower the property tax rate, the rise in assessments will mean higher tax bills for homeowners. Either way, it should mean lower tax bills for commercial office building owners. Despite the rise in assessments, the county is still facing a multi-million dollar budget gap for its FY 2016 budget.

The full press release from Arlington County, after the jump.

File photo

Arlington County real estate assessments for 2015 show an overall increase in property values of 3.4 percent over 2014. Growth in values in the residential sector was offset by flat commercial assessments.

The residential sector had a solid 2014; the value of the average Arlington residence (existing single-family properties, including condominiums, townhouses and detached homes), increased 4.9 percent from $552,700 in Calendar Year (CY) 2014 to $579,800 in CY 2015.

Real estate assessments will be mailed today to all Arlington property owners. Calendar Year (CY) 2015 assessment information also will be available online at 11 p.m. tonight. Look up your property assessment.

“Arlington’s overall real estate market remains resilient,” said Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan. “The strength of our residential market balances the tremendous pressures we see in the office building market due to the effects of BRAC and regional competition.”

The commercial tax base, which includes office buildings, apartments, hotels, and retail, was flat, with only a 0.1 percent increase over CY 2014 for existing properties.

Existing office property values decreased by 4.5 percent, due in part to the increase in office space vacancy. Apartments, which represent nearly 40 percent of the commercial tax base, offset the decrease in the office sector, with existing apartments increasing 4.7 percent and new apartment construction adding another 3.0 percent. General commercial properties (which includes various types of retail) increased in value by 5.0 percent but reflect a small percent of the total commercial tax base.

Budget outlook

The FY 2016 budget challenge is to balance the need to make strategic investments necessary to enhance the County’s economic competitiveness, respond to growth in school enrollment and meet other core service demands while minimizing the burden on County taxpayers.

The Board gave the County Manager budget guidance in November, 2014 for the FY 2016 Budget. At that time, tax revenues were projected to be 3.1 percent, and there was a projected $24 million combined gap for the County and APS between projected revenues and projected expenditures.

“The slight increase in real estate property values leaves the projected budget gap at close to where it was in December,” Donnellan said. “We still have tough budget decisions to make.”

The County’s single largest cost is funding the Arlington Public School (APS) system. For FY 2015, the County’s funding of Schools is 45.9 percent of all local tax revenue and an investment of more than $19,000 per student. Continued year-over-year growth in school enrollment has put pressure on School facilities and educational costs.

Expenditure needs for both the County and Schools are expected to be more than projected revenue – driven by compensation, school enrollment, and increased demands for services. The County and Schools will need to determine their priorities within these fiscal constraints. The County Manager and School Superintendent will present their proposed budgets to the County Board and School Board in late February. The County Board will set the real estate tax rate in April.

For more information on the budget process, visit the County’s Budget web page.

About real estate assessments

Real estate assessments are appraisals — the County’s opinions of value for each parcel of real property in Arlington. Assessments are made according to accepted methods, techniques, and standards of the real estate appraisal and assessment profession. The 2015 assessment is an estimate of the fair market value as of January 1, 2015.

Residential assessments were based primarily on neighborhood sales occurring July 1, 2013 through August 31, 2014. The real estate tax rate determines the amount of tax that is levied on the property. A uniform tax rate for all real property is set by the Arlington County Board; state code requires the County Board to use a uniform tax rate. In addition, Arlington levies additional taxes on commercial and industrial properties dedicated to transportation investments, as well as taxes for business improvement and sanitary sewer needs.

For more information, visit the County website and search “real estate assessment.”


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