Understanding Your Assessment

Property Taxes

The property or ad valorem tax is the primary source of revenue for local governments. Property tax revenues are used to operate schools and pay for vital services such as law enforcement, fire protection, public health, and more.

The amount of property tax you pay is based upon the value of your property and the tax rate as determined by the City Council. The City of Norfolk Real Estate Assessor’s Office determines the assessed value of all taxable property in the city. The City Council determines the spending priorities and the amount of revenue that will be available from all sources other than the property tax. The difference between the spending priorities and revenue from all other sources will generally determine how much revenue will be needed from property taxes to balance the budgets. The resulting tax rate is based upon the budgetary needs of the City after considering all other sources of revenue.

Legal Requirements

The property tax is governed by Chapter 24 of the Norfolk City Code and the Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia. Under these requirements the City of Norfolk is required to conduct a reassessment of real property (land, buildings and other improvements) every year. The law also requires the City to appraise real property uniformly at its market value. Market value is defined as “the price which it will bring when it is offered for sale by one who desires, but is not obliged, to sell it, and is bought by one who is under no necessity of having it.” Tuckahoe Woman’s Club v. City of Richmond, 199 Va. 734, 737, 101 S.E.2d 571, 574 (1958).

Sales Price as Compared to Assessed Values

Gathering information regarding sales of real estate is an important function of the Real Estate Assessor’s Office. The verification of recent sales provides insights into local market behavior and provides the information on which your assessment is based. Sales are excluded from analysis when the conditions of the sale do not meet the market value definition. For example, sales between family members, related corporations, gifts, foreclosures, etc. do not usually represent market value. The needs and compulsions of buyers and sellers also influence sale prices. Analyzing all recent sales allows the Real Estate Assessor's Office to account for unusual circumstances such as those described above and apply mass appraisal standards and rules for all property, whether sold or not. The application of standards and rules may not exactly match every recent sale price; however, such application ensures each parcel of real property will be treated uniformly and equitably.

Common Questions and Answers

What if I disagree with my property value? Please contact the Real Estate Assessor’s Office at 757-823-1343. Reassessment brings about a significantly increased workload for our appraisal staff, so our appraisers are not always immediately available. Our staff will respond to your call and one of our appraisers will contact you for a discussion regarding the value of your property.

Will I be able to compare my property value with other properties? Yes. Assessment records are generally open to public inspection. Please visit Norfolk Air at http://norfolkair.norfolk.gov/norfolkair/Search.aspx for publicly available real estate information.

And what if I’m still not satisfied? If the informal review process does not resolve your concerns, you may appeal your valuation to the Norfolk Board of Equalization and Review. Appeals to this board must be submitted no later than May 31.