Pittsylvania County Reassessment

What is the Purpose of Reassessment?

Legally required by the Commonwealth of Virginia, reassessment is when up-to-date property values are determined for an entire locality or municipality. Updated values are determined through photographs, aerial images, and observations from a trained crew of property assessors. There are many complicated formulas and factors involved in determining and updating property values, which are kept by the Commissioner of the Revenue. Here is more detailed information about reassessment.

 

These updated values are important because they ensure that every property owner pays appropriate taxes based upon up-to-date market values. In other words, the reassessment process ensures that the tax burden is distributed equitably and fairly. We want to make sure that some citizens don’t have a higher share of the tax burden than their property actually warrants, and we also don’t want to see citizens "fly under the radar" and avoid paying taxes on the actual value of their property. 

These values are kept on file by the Commissioner of the Revenue and are used in concurrence with the tax rate to generate real estate tax bills. Counties with populations of more than 50,000 are required to perform a reassessment at least every four years. 

This graphic explains what reassessment is and how it benefits the taxpayer


Skip to the two and a half minute mark of the top podcast to hear from Brightminds' Managing Partner William Cole about reassessment and the company's methods that differentiate them from other reassessment companies.

Skip to the two minute mark of the 2022 Reassessment podcast to hear more about the reassessment process from Pittsylvania County Project Manager Nick Morris.

Brightminds, Pittsylvania County's Reassessment Contractor 

Work for the 2022 reassessment has been underway in Pittsylvania County for many months. Pittsylvania County does not complete the reassessment process itself, as some larger localities do; instead, the Board of Supervisors has elected to hire appraisal companies to complete the process, ensuring more transparency. 

Among the three companies that put in bids to complete Pittsylvania County's reassessment, Brightminds was chosen because they are local, high energy, use technology well, and had the lowest price point.

Methods: Technology and Aerial Photography

“This reassessment process is extremely important for ensuring that all of our property owners pay their fair share of taxes, and the more information that our residents provide the more accurate and equitable the final assessment will be. We have gone with a completely different reassessment process this year to ensure that the results are as accurate as possible.” - Bob Warren, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors

One major element that distinguished Brightminds, LLC, from other assessment companies: Brightminds utilizes drone technology to capture aerial images of properties. This ensures more equalized, fair, and accurate data about every property. 

Typically, the only information assessors would have to go on was previous building data and frontal pictures of homes, which led to unequal amounts of information from each property. By utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles, the crews were able to collect more comprehensive and equal information on each property and be able to identify which properties require an in-person visit.

"The property is not just the dwelling; it's the overall site, and that drone picture allows you to see the overall site," explains William Cole, Managing Partner at Brightminds. 

All drone photo were captured between the fall of 2020 and early May of 2021. Clearly identified, certified FAA pilots with Brightminds utilized different takeoff points to complete drone flyovers. Assessors will examine the photographs taken by the drones and flag the properties that do not match previous records and need to be examined in person. Brightminds will conduct in-person visits to properties where discrepancies are found by the end of June, 2021. Approximately 10% of properties are expected to be visited in-person. 

A poorly worded letter that was sent out from Pittsylvania County regarding the reassessment process implied that the reassessment team would visit every property in-person and request to view the interior of every structure. Please view this press release from Pittsylvania County regarding a miscommunication on this matter and read this apology and clarification letter, which was sent out to property owners.The Pittsylvania County reassessment team CANNOT enter your home UNLESS you invite them in. They would never enter your home without your direct invitation. 

Process: Market Value and Assumptions

During a Work Session for the Board of Supervisors in March, William Cole, the Managing Partner of Pittsylvania County's assessment contractor, Brightminds, LLC, explained his team's valuation process and provided some demonstrations and example homes and how they would be valued. For instance, Cole explained the quality grading system - which ranges from A at best to E at worst - and showed where different homes would fit into that system. Cole also explained the difference between quality and condition: condition is the current state of the materials, whereas quality is the material's overall grade.  

The reassessment team considers all types of information, including quality and condition, list price versus sold price over the four year period, construction cost comparison, and year over years statistics, when determining what the fair market value for a property is. Fair market value is the amount a typical, informed purchaser would be willing to pay for a property with the following conditions:  

  • The seller and buyer are not related
  • The seller is willing, but not under pressure to sell, while the buy is willing but not under obligation to buy
  • The property is on the market for a reasonable amount of time
  • The payment is in cash or its equivalent and any required financing is typical for that type of property

The reassessment team will always aim to value a property at 100% of the fair market value. 

The letter sent out to property owners regarding the reassessment process stated that if the reassessment team could not see the interior of a home or building, then assumptions would need to be applied. 

Assumptions simply means that the reassessment team will have to assume that the interior of your home is similar in condition and quality to its exterior, which is how the reassessment process has always worked. 

Again, the reassessment process has always involved assumptions about things - such as the interior of a home - that the reassessment team cannot see. Pittsylvania County staff opened communication with the public by sending letters to encourage residents who wanted the reassessment team to view the condition or quality of their home's interior to fill out the information form or even request an in-person visit. This would have been beneficial for someone who's home appears or is nicer on the outside than the inside. 

Reassessment Timeline Revisions for Pittsylvania County's 2022 Reassessment



State Laws about Reassessment 

Virginia State Codes § 58.1-3250 through § 58.1-3355 governs the reassessment of real property for Virginia localities. The State Code includes sections regarding general information about reassessment cycles, who can perform a reassessment, reassessment valuation procedures and practices, the involvement of the Commissioner of the Revenue, the levy of taxes, public disclosure and access to records, tax to constitute lien, and administrative and judicial review