REAL ESTATE ASSESSOR
801 Crawford Street, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 820
Portsmouth, Virginia 23705
Telephone : (757) 393-8631
Fax: (757) 393-8177
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why does Portsmouth assess at "market value"?
The state code of Virginia requires that the Assessor’s Office assess all
taxable real property at 100% fair market value.
What is fair market value?
Fair market value is the most probable price that a property would sell for on
the open market. The sale should be an arms length transaction between a willing
buyer and seller. A bona fide sale of a property is considered the best evidence
of market value.
What affects market value?
The location of a property will affect value; a location near or on the
waterfront may add value, whereas, a location near a smog-ridden industrial
plant may reduce value. The supply and demand for particular types of property
will also affect market value. Physical characteristics such as size, type of
construction, age and condition, all have an affect on property value.
How does the Assessor’s Office obtain information?
The appraisal staff inspects property year-round. They gather information on
various aspects of the property pertinent to value: i.e.: type of construction,
square footage, age, physical condition, type of heat, number of baths,
fireplaces, location, etc. Inspections are done when building permits are
issued, if requested by a property owner, and through a general neighborhood
review. Analyses of sales data are also followed up with staff attempting to
contact owners to verify the listing and sale of the property.
The Assessor’s Office maintains records listing the property characteristics and
condition of each property. These records are public information and may be
reviewed any time during office hours: Monday through Friday; 8:00 a.m. til
How is property value determined?
Recent sales prices in your neighborhood will be used as a guide to property
values in your area. Value is derived by comparing similar properties of the
same quality, age and condition, etc. which have sold in the neighborhood. Sales
are reviewed to determine if the transfer was an arm’s length transaction. Sales
that would not be considered arm’s length would be; foreclosure, auction, sale
between related parties, condemnations, and sales resulting from divorce.
What if there are no recent sales in a neighborhood?
The sales from a comparable area to the neighborhood would be used to determine
value. These would be areas that are similar in location, housing style,
condition, age, and price range. This rarely happens as there are numerous
properties sold throughout the city annually.
Why do assessments change each year?
Assessments are conducted annually to ensure that recent market transactions are
reflected in your assessed value of your property. Sales prices dictate market
value. When the market values change in your neighborhood, so does the assessed
value. The Assessor’s job is to follow the market trends set by ongoing sales.
If homes in your area are selling higher than their assessed value, then the
assessment will likely increase. Should homes begin to sell for less than their
assessed value, then the assessments will likely decrease. People make value by
their transactions in the market place.
What do some properties sell for more or less than their assessed value?
The appraisal staff attempts to constantly review property values so that all
assessments are fair and equitable. Sales prices are always fluctuating due to
many reasons: from the cost of financing to how knowledgeable a buyer may or may
not be. These factors all may have an influence on price. The staff does not
always have the opportunity to visit and inspect every property within the city.
In today’s working world, it is not always possible to make a contact with each
property owner. Appraisals are not an exact science. With proper documentation
and information, should the Assessor find a property assessed too high or low,
he/she will correct it.