The Machinery Act requires each county to conduct a reappraisal of real property (land, buildings, and other improvements to the land) at least every eight (8) years. As part of the revaluation process, all counties are required to appraise real property uniformly at its true value in money. True value in money is "the price" estimated in terms of dollars at which the property would change hands between a willing and financially able buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.
Simply put, this means when two people trade land for money, both knowing what can and cannot be done with the land, and an agreement on the price is reached and the trade occurs, market value is established. Market value is not necessarily the price for which a realtor may list the land, nor is it the price for which a father may sell his son a piece of land. Market value is generally determined from sales between unrelated and unbiased buyers and sellers. This is commonly known as an "arms length" transaction. Sale through auction or foreclosure is not considered "fair market value."
The Machinery Act requires counties to appraise all real property uniformly. If comparable properties in your neighborhood are being sold in the $150,000 range and there are no significant differences in your property and the comparable properties, it is reasonable to believe your property may be valued in the $150,000 range. It would not be fair or equitable to appraise your neighbors recently purchased property at $150,000 and assess your property value at far less because you purchased your property several years ago.
Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about the revaluation process.
Q: How is my property value determined?
A: The initial and most important step of the valuation process is to visit the property and verify the accuracy of the data already in the appraisal system. As this is being done, other staff members will be building the 2003 Schedule of Values by researching and analyzing the values already established from sales, building costs, and income information. The Schedule of Values must be adopted by the Scotland County Board of Commissioners and is used to appraise all real property in the County.
When your property is being appraised, the appraiser considers several important factors, which include but are not limited to year built, size, condition, desirability, utility, zoning, and quality of construction, materials, and location. When the valuation process is complete, your property should appraise at a value comparable to properties within your neighborhood boundary, plus or minus adjustments for different factors. The 2003 revaluation is a Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal of all property in Scotland County, and the end result should be uniformity and equalization of values within each neighborhood throughout the county.
Q: What purpose does reappraisal serve?
A: Uniformity and equalization is the primary goal. The purpose of a reappraisal is not to increase revenues or to provide tax breaks, but to fairly, equally, and uniformly appraise the real property at its true value in money. Equalized values create equalized and uniform taxes. Equalization also creates a better tax climate in the community since each taxpayer is paying only his or her fair share.
Q: What is the difference between real property and personal property?
A: Personal property, such as automobiles, trucks, trailers, mobile homes, airplanes, boats, etc., is listed and appraised every year at its true value in money. Because real property and personal property are appraised at different levels throughout the eight year cycle, personal property owners could see a direct effect on the amount of taxes they will pay after revaluation. If the tax rate does not increase, then taxes levied on personal property generally decrease while taxes levied against real property generally increase. However, each year after a revaluation goes into effect, personal property begins to absorb more and more of the tax burden because the real property value remains fixed, and the personal property value is always at 100%. With an eight year revaluation cycle, this difference is considerably more noticeable.
Q: When will the new values come into affect?
A: The new values will become effective on January 1, 2003, so they will be reflected in the tax bills you will receive in July of 2003.
Q: What if I do not agree with my property value?
A: Once you receive notification of the new value of your property, you may complete and return the "Informal Review Form" if you do not agree with the property value.
Q: What documentation would be helpful if I appeal?
A: The way to appeal your value is to present an actual current appraisal, supported by local sales. If this is not possible, review sales in your neighborhood and present a comparison of property similar to your property, i.e. year built, size, construction material, etc. The Scotland County Tax Office can provide information for you to review to assist you in your own appraisal research. Do not pay for an independent appraisal unless you feel it is absolutely necessary. It is in our best interest to work with you on questions you have concerning your property value. Remember that we are required to appraise all property, but we are still your best tools to ensure that your property was appraised accurately, fairly and uniformly.
Q: What if I am still not satisfied?
A: The Board of Equalization and Review is the official assessment appeals board and the next step after the informal review. The Board convenes in early April and will hear any and all appeals concerning the assessed value of real property in Scotland County. Appeals from decisions of the Scotland County Board of Equalization and Review may be made to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission.
Q: What if I have more questions or would like someone from Revaluation or the Tax Office to speak to our group?
A: If you still have questions, contact the Revaluation Team at 910-277-2447. To schedule someone to speak to your church, organized club or group from the Tax Office or Revaluation, please call 910-277-2566.